You might get a litlle bit overwhelmed once you are standing there; Jemaa- el Fna or the souks of Marrakech. But don’t be. The best thing to do is keep your calm, enjoy the experience and think about this blog.
Jemaa el- Fna.
Jemaa el- Fna gets really busy in the afternoon and more so in the evening. Although it is crowed there is also lots to see. The square becomes a circus and theatre in one. You can see people doing acrobatics, boxing, dancing, making music, sing, handle snakes. But you can also play games, go to wonder doctors, readers etc. You have to pay a little fee if you want to watch it from up-close or take pictures of the artist performing.
In the evening there is also of things you can eat of this square. Always be aware that this food might not be to your hygienic standard. But if you are not afraid to try; the grilled, baked and cooked food can be such a delight. We heard about tourist getting sick from the “fresh” orange juice, cause it was mixed with water. If you want to taste some fresh juice; ask for it in your hotel/riad. Most of the time they serve this at breakfast.
Although the souks are open in the evening, the best time to visit is in the morning. It is not that busy then and you can wander around easy.
The souks are originally divided in different area’s (into the goods they sell or the profession). It is still very much the same as it was. Of course the stores sell more trinquets and some souks have changed. For instance; Place Rahba-Kedima use to be a corn and slave market. Now a days this is the spices, herb and medicinal plant market. But most of the souks are still very much original and there are many, for textile, carpets, herbs, carpets, pottery, jewellery, shoes, woodcraft (Souk Chouari), iron meltery (Souk Haddine) , tanneries, leather (Souk Cherratine) and everything in between.
You can enter the souks from different points, but you can enter them via Jemaa- el Fna. Then you will enter the souks from the north side. Pass the olives and the Mosque Quessabine and you will go into the main road. The Rue Smarine. From there is it a labyrinth of little alleyways. Look for the signs above the streets. They tell you where to go.
If you do want to go in the evening; the souks are open until about 21:00hrs (9 pm). After that they close off parts of the souk with big doors. If you have a Riad in the souk; be aware that the way you got may be different in the evening because of this.
Some dread it, some love it. But buying something in the souk means you have to haggle. Only haggle on things that are not food, most of the time the food is not overpriced. How to haggle: the best way to do this is ask a price . Only do this when you are really interested. Salesman often ask you want you want to give, but let them give an opening offer. Offer half of this price and go from there. It often takes some time to get the deal you are both happy with. You can do the “I am walking away” trick. But salesmen are used too this trick. It can make or break the deal. If you have an idea what you want to buy; ask our guides what a “normal” price is so you have a guideline to work with. And keep in mind that there is no such thing as “ the right price, it all depends on the day, the haggle, if business is slow etc.
Jemaa-el Fna and the souks are busy places. Lots of people, often narrow spots to stand and to walk. Watch your belongings. There is police visible everywhere, but it would be a shame if you get mocked. Some women say they did not encounter any harassment, others say they sometimes feel this in the souk when then walk alone. We would like to apologize on forehand if this happens. It does help if you walk together or with a guide.
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