Location: Marrakech, Morocco
An adventure searching for the perfect derelict Riad, through the constuction itself, to the end result (insha'Allah!)

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Souk Macabre

"Shopping in Marrakech is dizzying to say the least and downright hallucinatory to say the most" Susan Simon - Shopping in Marrakech

Marrakech's world famous labyrinthine souks (markets) offer many delights and surprises to the adventurous.  It is fascinating to spend your days wandering through the maze of passageways, even if you have no intention of making a purchase.

Unlike many other shopping experiences in the Middle East or North Africa, tourists experience very little in the way of hassle here.  In 1999, the new king Mohammed VI instituted la brigade touristique - the tourist police roam the soaks in plainclothes keeping an eye out for over-zealous merchants, so hassling has just about disappeared from the souks.  Instead most shopkeepers are polite and respectful to tourists.

There are some shop keepers who are so laid back, they might not even notice you are there...zzzz.

There are many different districts to the souk area of the city.  These include specialist areas selling particular types of goods, including an area only selling leather goods such as handmade bags, another only metalwork such as exquisite lamps, another woodwork, or decorative objects, rugs, ethnic jewellery, embroidered linens, colourful ceramics, sequined antique shawls, gold encrusted glass-ware etc.  The spice souk for example has many interesting potions on sale.

Including some dubious berber specialities.

Deeper into the souk and you may stumble upon African death masks, which for me make an interesting and collectable souvenir.

There are even some unusual and diverse ways of showing one's wares.  In the clothes souk, how do you show off children's clothes when you have no space left on the shop floor?

Why not hang child mannequins from the canopy creating an efficient (if slightly disturbing) display!

All in a normal day, shopping in the souks of Marrakech...

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