There is nothing that you cannot find in the Souks of the Marrakech Medina. Looking for a knock-off Louis Vuitton t-shirt? The souks have several. In the mood for cashmere scarves to match each of your holiday outfits? Head to the scarf section of the souks. Do you need a set of 12 traditional Moroccan glasses to enjoy your hot tea from? You’ll find them in the deep alleyways of the Medina.
The Medina is the historical part of the city of Marrakech, separated by an old city wall from the European area known as Gueliz, which is markedly more modern and high-end. We arrived in Marrakech on a hot spring afternoon and after dropping off our luggage at the Riad, our home for four nights, we headed straight for the souks. In hindsight, we should have braced ourselves, however, I’m not sure anything can prepare you for the overwhelming bartering and crowds of people that meander through the dark roofed alleyways as wares are thrust in front of you. The colors and patterns deluge you and between the smells of tagine (a North African Berber dish cooked in a clay pot) and being pulled in every direction, it can wreak havoc over your senses.
As we approached the souks from our Riad, we started off through the local food market, where in the morning we saw a crate of live chickens driven in, and as we headed past the area again for lunch, those same chickens were for sale… no longer alive. At least their poultry is fresh! After the food market, we approached souks selling vintage signage and then after a few winding alleys selling clay pots, clothing, jewelry, and more, we reached the Spice Market, a small square rimmed by restaurants and cafes. While this small market sells spices, the center of the square is a marked spot solely for women to sell their wares. Moroccan women sit under umbrellas with their goods spread in front of them while they weave baskets for sale, offer henna tattoos to sunburned tourists, and try to guide you over to their trinkets by using small caged turtles as bait.
After the Spice Market is where the real madness starts, the Souk Semmarine, which is the main laneway of shops leading to Djemaa El-Fna, the central square of the Medina. This square is where you will find snake charmers, fresh orange juice sellers, horse-drawn carriages, dancers, and theatrical performers. At night, Djemaa El-Fna is home to outdoor food stalls serving everything from tagine and cous cous, to seafood options and lamb chops. Whatever food you’re after, you will find it here.
I had no idea I needed postcards, clay pots, embroidered cashmere scarves, and Moroccan influenced clothing until I spent four days wandering the souks of Marrakech.