The Old City of Marrakesh
The Old City of Marrakesh is a place of vibrancy, that holds the soul and identity of Morocco. With the area known for its beautiful Riads – like the rest of Marrakesh – we chose to stay here to visit and speak to some of the locals to get an idea of what it is like to live in the Old City of Marrakesh. “It is beautiful, and not too hot at the moment. Until the weather gets up to 50°C we live comfortably. We fast the month of Ramadan in this weather and it is hard but we do it”.
The Old City is also worth a visit to also see the souks owned by locals. It is easy to find the same goods elsewhere, yet some of the shops which are located in the Old City hold tailor-made services, which are paired up with shops full of fabric for you to choose from. It also has stores of ready-made traditional Moroccan clothes for men and women. This souk is also a nice change from the busy market places elsewhere. It is a place where you can enjoy a relaxing walk down a short souk and browse one of a kind goods hand-made by locals.
Bab El Khmiss
Khmiss is a market to be avoided in Marrakesh. Its’ size mirrors that of the Grand Bazaar in Turkey yet its content looks more like scraps from a junk yard. Before the entrance to the bazaar itself there are piles and piles of clothes and shoes that look like they have been filtered from charity shops in the UK. Some of the goods are broken and still being sold at retail price.
If you would like to see where a lot of Marrakesh’ goods are manufactured, some of these places are in the bazaar of Khmiss. Contrary to my review above, we had the pleasure of viewing locals who were making tagines and doors with intricate wood-work. Other goods being sold in this bazaar were items from old and cheap furniture to material for sofas and beds. Here is an alternative review to Bab El Khmiss.
Guelize – dubbed the “Knightsbridge” of Marrakesh – is located in the new city. It is an alternative to the normal shopping experience that you would find elsewhere in Morocco. It’s a place of relaxation, and to avoid hagglers trying to con you into buying something which can become abit tiring after a while quite tiresome. It offers clean and wide roads, with open cafes and mainstream fashion shops from names like Mango to Adidas. Its’ shopping centre also holds a carrefour for those tourists who would like to take some groceries back to their Riads.
The area holds a sense of liveliness that can be felt through the atmosphere. Its streets are always busy with people looking for designer clothing or a fine dining experience. The back-streets of Guelize also holds a local mosque and an Islamic book store which are both worth a visit.
Jemaa el Fna
Jemaa al Fna is the main place any tourist gets told about upin their arrival in Morroco. Similar to Khmiss, the Bazaar seems equal in size to that of the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, yet you find that after walking down three to four different alleyways that all the shops tend to look the same. Indeed it does get a little boring after a while for a shopper who is looking for something a little different but keeps on running into different market shops all selling the same thing.
The shop-owners also tend to change to price as soon as you show interest in an item of theirs. This happened twice to me in one day. After speaking to a few different tourists who have also visited Jemaa al Fna, I learned that this practice among shop-owners is quite common. The real beauty which makes it worthwhile to visit is the atmosphere at night. It becomes alive with music, lights and different smells. It is said that people come from all over the world to visit this square at night and it is due to the many soothsayers, story-tellers and even dancers who like to entertain the visitors in the main square. There are also many food places but eating in a pop-up restaurant can be a bit risky due to how fresh the food is. If you would like to see every aspect of Morocco, then Jemaa al Fna is the place to see.