Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco.
Marrakech´s earliest inhabitants made their living from trading with the Africans and with the Spaniards who came by sea. Luxuries like gold and ivory came from the south, while leather, metalwork and ceramics were sent north. Even today trade continues to be the city´s mainstay. A labyrinth containing literally dozens of narrow alleyways all lined with shops the size of a cupboard is home to thousands of craftsmen eeking out an existence. In the maze of souks that fills much of the northern half of the medina, shop keepers sell cloth, brass lanterns, leather goods, metal work, jewellery, carpets, candles etc…Each area used to be dedicated to a single item, so you can see a street packed with nothing by colourfull “babouches” and another by sellers of glazed pottery only. You will get lost in the souks. Alleyways are narrow, winding and constantly branching, while landmarks are few. However, the area covered is small and you are never more than a few minutes´ walk back to Djemaa El Fna. Locals are friendly and will point out the way.
A trip to the souks is part history lesson, part endurance test – to see how long you can keep your purse in your bag or your wallet in your pocket, so compelling are the sales pitches of the shop owners.. In fact, talking about wallets, although Marrakech has a very low crime rate, the crowds milling around Jeema El Fna at night are perfect cover for pickpockets. Be careful with handbags and wallets.