I have absolutely no words to describe this place.
Actually, that’s a lie.
I have too many words to describe this place and like the souks themselves, they’re all swirling around in a plethora of madness.
Firstly, what are the souks?
The Souks are a maze of different markets which are located inside the red walls of the Medina in Marrakech. By maze, I don’t mean a lovely hedged maze which if you stand on your tippie toes you can see the exit route or a maze in which you are given clues to help find your way out. It’s the exact opposite.
Once you are more than 10 steps in, that’s it. No going back, even the way you came because no doubt you’ll have already turned a corner or walked up some steps and been drawn in to the wonders of the souks. The market owners never want you to leave and if you tell them you’re looking for an exit you’re more than likely going to be told to turn left then right and I can guarantee that is the entrance to a shop and not an exit!
We asked for the exit and ended up buying a rug for The Yellow One.
The souks will send your senses into overdrive, the colours, the smells, the callings for you to enter shops, the feel of the fabric and the taste of the foods and spices on offer are honestly a sensory overload!
I would challenge anyone over the course of a few days to repeatedly enter and not leave with some form of ‘souvenir’. If you don’t like something in one shop, you will be directed to a cousins shop, or a brothers shop, or a sons shop – The list is never ending, a bit like their enthusiasm and efforts.
Even though these souks are a fantastic piece of culture and heritage for Marrakech, you do need to have your wits about you and stick to your guns. Enforce the fact that no, means no. On the other hand, remember that they are trying to earn a living and probably live off a lot less than yourselves, so within reason, please haggle fairly.
After our trip, we came home with 2 Berber jackets, a rug, a small lamp and a metal Hamsa palm.
The evening we came back to our hotel in our jackets, the nightshift porter asked us how much we paid. Basically, Tom haggled his down from 700 Dirham to 450 Dirham and for our first experience of haggling – we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. After about an hour, I decided I wanted one too, but in pink and only if I could haggle the price lower than Toms (A bit of friendly competition is good in a relationship, right?!). So, we headed off again into the souks, I found my pink jacket and negotiations started before I even had chance to check if it fit. His first question – How much did you pay? directed at Tom. He gave an honest answer and I was instantly offered the jacket for 300 Dirham. Not a problem, 150 Dirham less than Toms. Mission Accomplished!
Anyway, back at the hotel we told Souhail our night porter how much we paid. A smug grin came across his face and he informed us he would pay half the price again for one BUT we had done well considering we were English tourists. However frustrating hearing that was, were also aware that as mentioned above, they are working hard for their living and £10 for me and Tom is not much, but £10 for them is a considerable amount. I would hate to think that if I visited again in 5-10 years the souks had disappeared due to not being profitable livelihoods for the people of Marrakech. It would be a massive part of their culture lost due to the advances of modern society.
We absolutely loved the souks and we spent hours and hours lost in them admiring everything we walked past. I honestly cannot put into words the hustle and bustle that goes on inside them.
I have asked a few guest writers who have also been to Marrakech to help me out on this one. They have been tasked with describing the Souks in 10 words or less, so here goes!
Rosie of Wonderous Paths – ‘Overwhelmingly confusing, but loaded with amazing hidden gems.’
Becky of Becky the Traveller – ‘You feel like you’re never going to escape the souks, but once you do, you realise what an amazing place it was and want to go back for more!’ – ‘Sorry, under 10 words is so hard!’
Ben of Bravo, Other Side of the Mountains – “Sights, sounds and smells, simultaneously delighting and assaulting the senses.”
“A mass of humanity, adventure at its rawest.”
SOStraveluk – ‘A magical bazaar which encapsulates everything about authentic Moroccan culture’
Top10Marrakech – ‘A vibrant labyrinth of treasure smells and colours to explore!’
Please, feel free to visit their blogs too as I’m sure they also have many tales and stories to tell of the places they’ve been and the people they have met!
I hope we have managed to paint a beautiful image of culture, history and colours in your head! The Souks should definitely be on your list of places to visit!