Shopping the Souks of Morocco
Morocco is an enchanting and ethnically diverse country fueled by exotic sights, sounds and scents. Located on the edge of North Africa and a stone’s throw to Europe, its eclectic medieval culture provides an exciting blend of inspirations from varied western influences. Famous for its sun, sand, mountains and mosques, Morocco presents an adventure for the senses in a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
If you love to shop, then you will love Morocco. The markets or “souks” are world-famous for getting lost in for days. Enter into the medina, the ancient walled section of the city where car-free, narrow alleys will escort you through miles of maze-like paths into another world framed in tiny shops and stalls. The Medina is the center of Moroccan life where the local people shop, bake their bread, sell their livestock and purchase everything from spices and magic potions to carpets and caftans. Prepare yourself with patience. The centuries-old tradition of bartering is considered not only an art but also a form of entertainment and social interaction. It will begin with an invitation to sit over a glass of sweet mint tea, followed by the ritual of back and forth haggling. Whatever the vendor quotes – offer one third. The bartering will be followed by counteracting with sob stories, jokes, and perhaps even having to get up and walk away – if you aren’t called back you have underestimated the value, if you are greeted with a final handshake a deal has been struck.
Morocco offers an enviable variety of trinkets and treasures. Barter with the best to land an authentic Berber, Arab or Islamic style carpet. Treat yourself to ornate woven textiles or stylish leatherwork including the ever-popular pointed toe slippers from the famous tanneries in Fes. Moroccan pottery and ceramics represent the century-old heritage and are considered pieces of art. Beautifully precise the blue and white geometric motifs reflect the city’s mosaic patterns. Another popular ceramic souvenir is the tajine – a shallow bowl and conical cover used for stewing meat and vegetables, uniquely decorated in traditional patterns. For extraordinary woodwork, the artisans of Meknes create intricate panels and frames filled with rows of hand carved designs, while Essaouira is known for detailed marquetry using mother-of-pearl. From beautiful copper candlesticks and heavy silver jewelry to traditional drums and mosaic tiles – Morocco’s exotic artistry and wild market adventures will take your shopping skills to a whole new level!