Morocco’s markets are the place to visit to get as close as possible to the country's traditions, heritage and culture. Walking through the crowded streets, you immerse yourself in the intoxicating smells of spices and perfumes, the dazzling colors and the music of the Arabic language in its spoken native vernacular. It is worth taking the time to wander off and get lost in the staggering labyrinth of narrow alleys. An incredible experience that evokes all your senses.
Every city in Morocco boasts its own markets. Marrakech, however is particularly famous for having the largest and most diverse offerings. The souks sprawl out from the Jemaa el Fna square and continue in a winding maze of alleys and narrow streets. Historically, the souks were divided according to the commodities and crafts sold there and bear the name of the particular category of craft.
Many of the crafts found in the souk today are created in the same techniques used a thousand year ago and are decorated with the same ancient symbols and patterns, but you will find artisans combining old and new.
There are so many markets to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. So, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favorite markets that you really don’t want to miss:
If you can only visit one Souk, we recommend Souk Semmarine. Souk Semmarine is one of the main routes leading out the city's main square, Jemaa al-Fna and is one of Marrakech’s main shopping areas for locals and tourists alike. Entering Souk Semmarine is like entering a magical universe, and most likely it is not like anything you've experienced before.
Originally this area was dedicated to leatherwork, but today Souk Semmarine offers a wide variety of traditional Moroccan crafts, from ceramics to rugs. Bear in mind that prices here are higher than the specialist markets that are farther from the Jemaa-al-Fna square and which are harder to navigate to. We recommend an additional visit to the market in the evening when the stalls that specialize in metal filigreed lamps turn on their lights and the beautiful intricate designs shine through the dark.
Not very well known, this is one of our favorite Souks and a paradise for music lovers. In side Souk Kimakhine you will find an abundance of traditional handmade musical instruments such as tambourines and Gnawa guitars called guembris, darboukas and tarija drums. This souk has such a special energy to it that it makes you want to kickoff a great big jam session.
The Mellah is the area of old Jewish quarter. It is situated within the Kasbah walls, where the Jews were protected by the King. Many of the Jews in this area worked as tailors and as jewellers.
The few Jews that still live in Morocco have moved out of this area, but it is a fascinating place to visit. Here you will find the covered spice market where you will find all the traditional Moroccan scents and flavours and home remedies, such as cinnamon, saffron, paprika and argan oil. You will also find here small jewelery shops, perfect for treasure hunting.
If spices is what you're after, Souk El Attarine is definitely also worth a visit. Here you will finds piles and piles of seductive spices and perfumes. If it is Jewelery that your looking for, we suggest a visit to the glittering shops at Souk des Bijoutiers.
Your trip to Marrakesh is not complete without visiting the Souk Smata, the shoe market. Here you will find beautiful handmade Moroccan slippers, known as babouches, in a variety of vibrant colors and designs. Locals love wearing these traditional slippers, and rightfully so, as these leather made slippers are incredibly comfortable.
This is the blacksmith souk where metal trays, traditional Moroccan teapots, plates, pots and even wrought iron gates are made by hand using ancient techniques. Master artisans sit in small shops hammering metal into wonderous creations in an amazing joyful cacophonous symphony.