The tanneries in the medieval Granada


In this article, I propose to know what are the tanneries, what the produced, and where they existed.

Nowadays, it is an artisan market that still goes on in many countries.

First I propose to know what they were and is that a tannery is a place where the process of transformation the skin of different animals into leather takes place.


Apparently, it seems simple but nothing further from the reality because it consists of four steps.

The first consists of cleaning the animal’s blood and hair well. After that which it is tanned and completed with a retanning and finishing.

The idea is to obtain from the skin a durable material that is not broken down by physical or biological mechanisms.


Secondly, I would like to show you how Granada had tanneries which were located between Zacatin Street and Darro river towards Corral del Carbón.

In fact, places like fishmongers and tanneries were located near the river, precisely because they were places that needed to be close to the water, both to have clean water and to be able to properly evacuate waste or dirty water.


The Alhambra also had its own, of which today are archaeological remains in the Medina.

They were located between the Medina of the Alhambra and the Hotel Parador.

There were eight small pools just for small skins like goat and sheep. Where they allowed the skin to macerate, so it that it softened and deposited it with large amounts of water.

After which the whitewashed to remove the hair, the idea was to put in a slurry of lime, so little by little the hair was separated and scraped off all the hair of the animal.

Then you had to detonate or clean the remains of lime.

Through this process, the skin was reduced to epidermis, which is the valid part for tanning.

And we have left the most important phase, turning into leather for which until the end of the nineteenth century used plant products such as the bark of some trees or alum.

These products used were shells of pomegranates dan almonds that have large amounts of tannis and pigeon droppings.


The photo that we put in the article are some current tanneries in Fez, Morocco.

At present, the most demanded skins are dromedaries and cow skins.

And the process is the same, the skin is washed, the hair is removed and immersed in a mixture of water, pigeon droppings and cow urine that contain high potassium.

Precisely because of this they are places of a rather unpleasant smell.


Mineral and vegetable species are used for the dye.

Thus, to obtain the yellow color before, saffron was used, but due to its high price, it is now using turmeric.

For red, a mixture of water and poppy paste is used. And so on.

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