A labyrinth of animated alleys, traboules and dead ends, the magic of light that offers its rays in a sparkling rain, dripping from the wooden laths and trellises, flamboyant colors, intoxicating perfumes, a colorful crowd that leads you into the narrow “derbs”, you are in the souk of Marrakech.
The dictionary definition is evocative: souk = great disorder, capharnaüm. This is the first impression of all the covered markets of North Africa… But if you look closely, you will see that each stall is orderly, that each souk sells its own specific products. In the past, the souk was the place where people talked about politics, religion, economy, drank tea with their friends, made deals, borrowed money, met other tribes and sometimes even their future wife. Nowadays, it is a place of trade and professional activity.
Distribution of the craftsmen
The variety of items that can be found covers almost everything imaginable: clothing, jewelry, tapestries, slippers, objects made of earthenware, wood, metal or leather, spices, dried fruit, meat and other foods, medicinal herbs …
Near the Jemaa El Fna square, the Smarine souk gathers sellers of fabrics, djellabas and caftans. The El Fekharine souk specializes in traditional pottery.
Near the Rahba Kedima square, the Zarbia souk offers thousands of carpets. Then it is the souk of the jewelers.
At the Mouassine fountain, dyers unveil colorful displays of fabrics and wool. At the souk Chouari, it is the world of wood.
Further east, the souk Smata, allows you to find your pair of slippers. In the Cherratine souk, leather is worked. The souk Haddadine is recognizable by the sound of hammers; it is the place of ironmongers and blacksmiths. A few alleys away, you will hear the hammering of the coppersmiths in the copper souk. Wool, sheep or goat skins, apothecaries, dried fruits, spices, so many amazing and authentic souks.
In short, the souks are a pleasure for the eyes with the colors, the objects, the work of the craftsmen; a pleasure for the ears with the swarming of people who call you on their donkeys or in their stores, the noise of hammers or the cries of children; the pleasure of smell with the cedar, the spices, the leather; the pleasure of touch with the skins, the rustic materials and the handshakes of the Moroccans so friendly; the pleasure of taste with the mint tea and the beghrirs.
In the evening, when you return, you will still have in your head the memory of the narrow streets intoxicating and dizzying and the hypnotic images of a kaleidoscope.
The souks of Marrakech remain a must for every tourist.
The souks are generally open all day with a break between 12 and 2 pm. Some shops are closed on Fridays and public holidays.
Tips for haggling:
Haggling is an inherent part of the souks. The main thing is to be proud of your purchase.
- Take a look around first, just to see what you are looking at, not the price, just to get an idea. You can also go to stores that display the labels and note the prices.
- When you find the item you want, don’t say “oh great”, the shopkeeper might see this as a crazy desire to raise the price.
- Avoid spending an hour unpacking and not buying anything, it irritates the sellers and is very rude.
- Be careful, accepting tea is often the same as buying something.
- The merchant will give you his price and it is up to you to make a “counter-proposal”. He will make another offer, and then it will be up to you until you agree. In any case, if your price is too low, he will not insist. Be aware that the seller has to earn a living and that he will not sell you the object at its purchase price, this is normal.