The snake charmers of Jemaa El Fnaa

Snake charming is an ancient skill in Morocco and those who practice this art can always be found in Marrakech’s central square, Jemaa El Fnaa. Although there are a myriad of remarkable sights to be discovered in the centre of the city, the small communities of charmers will perhaps be those you hear, before you see.

As I take the 2 minute stroll from Riad Dar Habiba with MarrakechRiad’s resident video blogger Jamie Horton in search of the snake Charmers, it doesn’t take us long to single out the snake charmers hypnotic melody from the roaring cries of Marrakshi tradesmen who inhabit the square by day.

After finding a group of charmers Jamie and I exchange nervous smiles (considering the proximity of a rather large cobra) and a few Dirhams so that we can film them practicing their art. However from somewhere between meeting the charmers and trying to learn more about their trade, I find myself sat with between them with a Moroccan water snake draped around my neck like an exotic scarf. “Nonvenomous” one of the charmers laughs at me through a grin, noticing my slight discomfort.

After handing back my new serpentine friend, I retreat back slightly and discover that the man in the green t shirt in the photo above’s name is Abdullah. He tell’s me that he and the other charmers are Berber, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. Abdullah explains that although he’s had other professions in his 54 years, he has been snake charming since he was 17.

I ask Abdullah if the snakes have names, to which he replies “of course! This one’s name is cobra and this is python.” Abdullah goes on to explain that wild snakes can’t be found anywhere close to the region surrounding Marrakech. He and the other charmers instead have traveled from the southerly reaches of Morocco to the Sahara deserts in order to catch them.

Seeing the charmers practicing their trade is arguably one of the most mystifying sights Marrakech has to offer. Just click the link below if you want to see what Jamie and I experienced before your visit to Morocco!

Marrakech Jemaa al Fnaa Map

» Explore the Jemaa el Fnaa Map