Jemaa el Fna is a huge attraction in Marrakech. Located in the middle of the old city (Medina), its something that you will see whether intended or not. But really, why wouldn’t you go there?
The plaza is crawling with snake charmers and henna artists. I’ve had a love for snakes and other reptiles since I was a kid living in Florida so seeing a snake charmer was on top of my list. We found a group of snake charmers and got our cameras out. It was so cool. There were lots of snakes from weak little garter snakes that would accidentally get killed in my backyard by a rake to a big black cobra that could intimate most people. Of course, this show is not for free. Give them what you will, I’d say between 100-200 MAD (about 11-20 CAD) is more than reasonable depending on how long you stick around.
Jemaa el Fna goes right into the market and souks. The souks are amazing! It’s interesting to see where these things are made, especially as a westerner who rarely finds out where the things I buy are made. Though be warned. The souks can be a dizzying maze. We went through with a guide named Rasheed who knew the place inside out and knew a lot of the people there. He even hooked us up with the BEST Berber pancake I had my whole trip right in the middle of the souks. If it weren’t for him, we could have been lost in there for days… Or would have just paid a kid to help us get out.
Rasheed explained to us that the market around the plaza is a Turkish style. I’ve never been to Turkey so I’ll take his word for it. Every stall owner will try to suck you in a buy something always giving a price too high for what your purchasing. Some stalls even have turtles out front to distract you so they have an opportunity to start trying to sell you things. DISTRACTION TURTLE!! It’s the kind of place to fine tune your bartering skills. If you aren’t up for the bartering, like my mother, there is fixed price shop (Centre Artisanal) where you can shop for all your souvenirs and more without being pestered at all.
The Night Market springs up in the plaza around 6-ish every night (at the time of dusk). We didn’t stay at the night market long. It was mostly food stalls and we were having dinner at our Riad. Though, snails are the specialty here so we grabbed an appetizer just to make sure we got the experience. They were good: salty and chewy. Thanks to my sweet tooth we also grabbed a couple boxes of Moroccan sweets. Both snails and sweets are worth a try.
Jemaa el Fna was definitely a unique experience for me and I totally get why people talk for fondly about Marrakech’s markets. What’s your favourite market you’ve been to?