In the North-Eastern reaches of the ancient central square of Marrakech between Souk Semmarine and Café de France you will discover Souk el Bahja.
Meaning literally ‘up and down’ in the Moroccan Darija dialect of Arabic, Souk el Bahja gets its name from the three floors of iron stairs that allow you to traverse through the labyrinthine market district.
Souk el Bahja is ancient and traditional market district which specialises in female clothing and jewellery. Everything from bracelets to wedding rings can be found here, and the vast amount of jewellery on offer has earned the Souk the nickname the ‘place of lovers’ amongst locals.
Lose yourself in Souk el Bahja and the many others like it on a trip to the red city today by staying in any one of our four luxury Riad Hotels, all located in the very heart of the Marrakech Medina.
If you speak to anyone who has visited Marrakech, you can be sure that they will mention the red city’s famous Souk District. Located in the very heart of the Medina, just north of Jemaa al-Fnaa and a five minute stroll from Riad Dar Habiba, Cinnamon, Papillon and Riad Star.
The souks of Marrakech are the largest you can find from all four corners of Morocco and it’s astonishing to think that for a thousand years the district has acted as a thriving central hub for trade and commerce without very little changing at all. Though allowances have been made for modern tastes, many of the traditional commodities can still easily be bought from the winding alleys of the Souks.
As you first walk into Souk Semmarine (the central channel of the district) the sensory overload of sight, smell and sound makes it difficult to focus on any one thing at once! As you come to your senses you will find yourself walking past stalls and shops specialising in pottery, pâtisseries, textiles, spices, carpets, jewellery and more. All of which are dimly lit under the covered boards that shield the alley from the intense Moroccan sun, giving Souk Semmarine a truly magical and mysterious feel.
As the night sun begins to set, the atmosphere in the red city’s central square, Jemaa al-Fnaa, begins to change, so does it in the souks. Indeed, in our opinion, early evening is the best time to visit both the Souks and the Jemaa al-Fnaa square. Look out for stalls specialising in Moroccan lamps, the craftsmanship that goes into designing the lamps is an art that is usually passed down through families, generation after generation. In the evening, the dim glow the lanterns emit light up the darkened corners of the Souks and it’s a common sight to see tourists and Marrakshi locals drawn into the lamps stalls like moths to a flame.
Trips to the Souk district will be one of the highlights of your adventure in Marrakech. They stay open from 9am to 9pm so it’s advisable to visit in the cool of the morning or as the sun starts to set if you are finding it hard to acclimatise to the high temperatures of Morocco. Finally, remember haggling is key! The art of haggling is integral to the culture of transactions that take place in the Souks and stall owners will be disappointed if you don’t try!
Opening Times: 9-10am til 7pm