Tag Archives: souk

A visit to the dyers souk in Marrakech

“I am the souk of a thousand and one colors, but they come at a cost: the hard labor of the Sebbaghine dyers”

Your visit to Marrakech won’t be complete without a trip to the Souk Des Teinturiers.  Also called Souk Sebbaghine, this is Marrakech’s colourful and photogenic dyers’ souk, where wool and fabric are dyed and left hanging across the alleyways to dry.

A narrow alley leads you into the small main square, where you will be surrounded by bright colours: the dye powders arranged in bowls, the drying wool hanging over your head, the fabrics sold in the shops. You can also watch skilled men dipping wool into large metal vats of hot dye. When you get close, you may feel like you’ve just walked into one of the circles of Dante’s inferno!

A curiosity about the dyes: green powder dyes fabric red, red powder dyes things blue, and yellow powder dyes things purple. Isn’t this magic?!

Discovering Marrakech

Before travelling to Marrakech I didn’t really know what to expect. I had the feeling that it would be a chaotic place full of historic buildings, people in traditional clothing, and lots of colourful stalls dotted around the narrow alleys in the souks.

In simple words, that’s exactly what Marrakech is.

The Medina. This is Marrakech in its essence. The old Marrakech. The traditional Marrakech. The most intriguing part of this city. The Medina of Marrakech is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural value and its impressive number of masterpieces of architecture and arts. And it will not disappoint!

Visit the Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa, once a theological college dating back to the 14th century but rebuilt two centuries later and the largest madrasa of all Morocco. Spend some time at Palais Bahia, built in the late 19th century and intended to be the greatest palace of its times.

Walk with no purpose except that of discovering the city, lose yourself in the maze of narrow alleys, follow the pungent scent of spices, let the local artisans approach you as they are trying to sell you some of their artifacts.

Reach Jemaa el-Fnaa, the real centre of Marrakech. This square is synonymous with chaos but this is what makes it such a great place too! Visit around sunset and you will be rewarded with amazing colours and incredibly vivid images. Bargain a price with the water sellers and they will be “yours” for as long as you like. Watch the women in colourful traditional dresses, the snake charmers, wander around the food stalls displaying a large variety of dishes: they all contribute to the charm of Jemaa el-Fnaa.

Then sit down and eat at one of the food stalls, all easy to identify because they use reference numbers. One word of warning though: they tend to overcharge tourists so make sure that you only order from menus with prices on display! But don’t let this spoil the experience: the food is very good and fresh, and a meal in Jemaa el-Fnaa will be the perfect end to a day of discovery of Marrakech.