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Explore The Colourful Souks of Morocco

Explore The Colourful Souks of Morocco

access_time February 16, 2017 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments 1823 views

Ever wondered which of our planet’s man-made corners is the most vibrant? Step into a Moroccan souk, and you’ll find your answer there! Oozing with mysticism, the souks of Morocco are a vivid reminder of a bygone era. Almost every city houses a medina (an old town), which usually includes old settlements, mosques, narrow winding lanes and souks. The souks are categorised and named depending upon the commodities sold in that market. Here’s how you can explore them.

Take a sneak peek into the vibrant alley of a classic Moroccan souk

That’s what a typical Moroccan souk looks like

The Souks Of Marrakesh

An aerial view of Djeema El-Fna or Central Square of Marrakech Medina

An aerial view of Djemaa El-Fna the central square in Marrakesh

While you will find many places in this African country adorned with a labyrinth of souks, the largest ones are found in Marrakesh’s Madina. Start by taking a stroll around Djemaa El-Fna and enjoy mint tea at a street stall. From street artists to gypsies, wandering musicians to magicians, snake-charmers to water carriers, you’ll encounter interesting people and events at every turn.

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What To Buy From The Souks Of Marrakesh

#1 Don’t leave Marrakesh without a babouche from Souk Smata

There is nothing you won’t find in Marrakesh. However, one of the souvenirs you need to take from here are shoes! Souk Smata is the shoe souk of Marrakesh. Walls embellished with traditional Moroccan leather slippers known as babouches are found everywhere in this souk. The colorful, embroidered and bejeweled variety of the babouches will certainly entice you to make a purchase.

Traditional Moroccan slippers are very comfortable and the best souvenir you can take home

Traditional Moroccan slippers are comfortable and a great souvenir to take home

#2 Buy a “Berber Picasso” from Souk Zrabia

Scores of flamboyant Moroccan rugs and carpets in Souk Zrabia a carpet market, are a treat for the eyes. These Berber carpets are so awe-inspiring they are known as Berber Picasso. They are considered not less than an art form in Morocco. And, rightly so. Made with a range of different animal skins, each carpet is woven to tell a tribal tale or boast a talismanic symbols.

One of the walls adorned with Berber rugs in the carpet market

One of the walls adorned with Berber rugs in the carpet market

#3 Take home metal or woodwork from Souk Haddadine & Souk Chouari

The exclusive metalwork & woodwork souks are worth paying a visit to. They are called Souk Haddadine & Souk Chouari. The fabulous artifacts and the craftsmen at work right in the middle of the market are captivating, and let you in on how this intricate art form comes to life.

A wide variety of metal lamps in different shapes and sizes are found here

A wide variety of metal lamps in different shapes and sizes are found here

#4 Pick something aromatic from the spice souk in Marrakesh

However, the most popular is the spice souk in Marrakesh. While the aroma of the spices is tantalising, the sight of heaps of colourful spices itself is a visual treat. Moroccan saffron is the most sought-after spice, as well as the most expensive. But beware saffron sold in powder form; it’s definitely fake!

Colorful spices sometimes look so appealing, you might wonder if they are edible

Colorful spices that look so appealing, you might wonder if they are edible!

Glimpse The Heart Of Morocco At The Souks Of Fes

It is said that Fes is the heart of Morocco. Circa 1300 years, the cobbled alleys of Fes medina were just as lively as they are now. Despite the fact that tourism and globalisation have changed the face of medinas, Fes still transports you back to an ancient time. Once here, ready yourself to get lost in a sea of humans flowing in an erratic rhythm.

Bab Bou Jeloud or the blue gate is the entrance to Fes Medina

Bab Bou Jeloud or the blue gate is the entrance to Fes Medina

Experiences To Have In The Heart Of Fes

#1 The headiness of Souk El Attarine

The spice and perfume souk, Souk El Attarine, in Fes, is quite renowned. Other than the spices & perfumes, you will come across shops selling incense sticks, herbal cosmetics and medicines. After every few meters, the air is filled with a different fragrance. This is a roller coaster ride for the senses!

Bottles of the perfume are more attractive than the fragrance

Bottles of the perfume are more attractive than the fragrance

#2 The bling of the gold and silver souks

The gold & silver souks of Fes are known to be the best in all of Morocco. They exhibit the stunning designs of traditional Berber jewelry, along with beautiful trays, intricate daggers, hand-crafted frames and a lot more. In fact, if silver is what your heart lusts after, Fes serves you with excellent variety and impeccable quality.

Colorful stones embellished in silver jewelry

Colorful stones embellished in silver jewelry

#3 The ceramic artistry of the pottery souk

Another thing that Fes is popular for is the ceramic artistry. The pottery souk in Fes boasts a wide array of ceramic articles drenched in gorgeous Islamic art. The abundance will mesmerize you, just as the art will.

Ceramic plates with vibrant patterns are available at most souks

Ceramic plates with vibrant patterns are available at most souks

A Less Crowded Experience In The Souks Of Meknes

Much smaller in size, the souks in Meknes offer a hassle-free experience. The streets are not as crowded but are full of vibrant commodities. And what draws most tourists to Meknes is that souks here offer relatively cheaper rates than the others.

Moroccan artistry at its best

Moroccan artistry at its best

What To Buy In The Souks Of Meknes

#1 The silver work in Kissaria Lahrir souk

Much smaller in size, the souks in Meknes offer a hassle-free experience. The streets are not as crowded but are full of vibrant commodities. The most exclusive find in Meknes should definitely be silver damascene work in the traditional souk of Kissaria Lahrir. The fine silver thread is skilfully embedded on fragments of steel forming an intricate design. The fragments are then used in the making of pottery articles. These gorgeous masterpieces adorned with silver depict the ancient art inherited by the Moroccan artisans. What’s more, you can catch these craftsmen while they are at work in the souk. And, it’s quite an engaging sight!

#2 Buy babouches and Berber carpets

Other great offerings in Meknes include babouches at Souk es Sebbat and Berber carpets at Souk Joutiya es Zerabi.

A vendor waiting for business at a carpet and cloth shop in the souk

A vendor waiting for business at a carpet and cloth shop in the souk

Souk Shopping Tips

One of the many shops in a Meknes souk

One of the many shops in a Meknes souk

1. Narrow lanes teeming with locals and tourists alike, might fail to offer a relaxing experience. You have be careful with your belongings while strolling in the souks lest you lose a precious belonging.

2. Do not buy anything without haggling. The vendors go to the extent of quoting double the worth of their products.

3. Avoid taking photographs of the locals without their permission. They may take offence. Do not feel daunted. All great places have some dos and don’ts that a traveler should respect.

In today’s world, Moroccan souks, drenched in culture and tradition, have kept alive the rich heritage of the country. Go on, explore this world of infinite experiences and be enchanted.

Every lane of every souk in Morocco has a story to tell

Every lane of every souk in Morocco has a story to tell

Fact File On Morocco

Location: Morocco
Official Language: Arabic, Berber, Darija
Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Food & Drinks: Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Couscous, Pastilla, Tajine, Tanjia, Harira, Soup, Green Tea, Atai, etc
Time zone: GMT + 1 (UTC+1)

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About The Author

Reshma Rohra

Reshma Rohra

 

Reshma Rohra sought solace in penning down her thoughts and emotions as a young girl. She took up writing as her profession in 2009, and has been freelancing ever since. She also works as a copywriter. Her other interests include doodling and exploring music, books and places.

 

 

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Cox & Kings

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