Djemaa el-Fna is the largest square in Marrakesh’s large medina. It is also one of the city’s most-visited tourist attractions. At the heart of the city’s trading past, Djemaa el-Fna was once the main marketplace in Marrakesh’s old town. Today, stalls sell an array of goods, including Argan oil products that are produced in other parts of the province. There are many street food stalls too, with kebabs, snails, pastries, and other small snacks, as well as establishments where you can sit and enjoy a larger meal, like tajine or tangia. The orange juice vendors around the lively Djemaa el-Fna are especially acclaimed.
Mellah is the old Jewish quarter of the medina. While there are few Jews still residing in the area, a walk through the markets and past the time-worn stores reveals years of history. An assortment of goods is available, but the area is especially known for its wide selection of colourful fabrics and ornate accessories for clothes-making.
Souk Cherifia offers a more sanitised and easier-to-navigate version of the city’s souks, with a selection of shops within a shopping centre. The types of items are very typical to those found outside lining the streets, but with a lot more order. Quality is usually high, as reflected by the higher prices. It’s also a terrific place for picking up modern takes on classic designs and imported items from other parts of the continent.
If you want to see how traditional items are made without the hassle of visiting different parts of the large souks, the Ensemble Artisanal is the place to visit. A government-backed scheme, top artisans are hand-picked to work in the complex, teaching various trades to young apprentices. Goods are then sold at fair fixed rates to visitors. See how musical instruments, lanterns, carpets, silver jewellery, leather items, pottery, brass goods, wooden carvings, and more are produced with skill and care.
Souk el Attarine
Although Souk el Attarine was traditionally a place to buy spices and scents, metal goods are also found here in abundance today. It’s a terrific souk to experience the hustle and bustle of a Moroccan market while browsing a wide selection of items in one condensed area. Mirrors in all shapes and sizes reflect nearby lamps and teapots, and the delicate aroma of perfumes and heady smell of spices linger in the air.
Souk des Bijoutiers
Souk des Bijoutiers was historically a place for wealthier locals to purchase dazzling jewellery. The gems, jewels, and gleaming precious metals still attract those who want to make a statement and add some beautiful pieces to their accessory collection. Brides-to-be may check out the jewellery in preparation for their wedding day.
Colourful and bright, Souk Smata is the number one place to purchase traditional leather footwear. Row upon row of hand-made babouches (slippers) are available in an assortment of sizes. While the shoes can be worn inside or outdoors, Moroccans generally have separate pairs for indoor and outdoor use.
Souk des Teinturiers
Souk des Teinturiers is where fabrics and skins are dyed in an eye-catching spectrum of colours. Watch how dyes are applied to items and peruse finished pieces of silk and sheep skins, ready to be bought, or to be turned into rugs, clothes, and other items.
A relatively under-visited souk by tourists, Souk Haddadine lets you take a peek into the world of a Moroccan blacksmith. The clanging of hammers rings through the air and you can feel intense waves of heat as you pass by the furnaces. While you are unlikely to find many souvenirs in this area, you can watch first-hand as wrought iron gates, pots, plates, trays, teapots, horse shoes, and other metal items are bashed into shape with precision.
Bab El Khemis
A popular spot for locals, a large flea market sets up every Thursday evening in front of the Bab El Khemis gateway. Seemingly lacking any coherent organization, stroll through the diverse array of items and try to spot a few treasures. Anything goes here, with old carved doors propped up against the walls, brass door knockers spread on sheets on the floor, and second-hand clothing draped over anything that will serve as a makeshift garment display. Old items of furniture in various states of repair are strewn across the pavement; expect to find anything from brass bedsteads to plastic garden chairs. You may even see the odd kitchen sink. Bicycles, jewellery, tools, cookware, cushions, and rugs are a few other items spread through the thronging market.
Watch carpenters at work in Souk Chouari, see musical instruments being made at Souk Kimakhine, and stroll the lively stretch of Souk Semmarine. Head to Gueliz, especially around rue de la Liberte, for stylish boutiques and fixed-price shopping. Visiting the photogenic and atmospheric markets of Marrakesh is definitely something you should experience while in the Red City.