The Markets of Essaouira, Morocco
For the July/August Wander section, AFAR highlights the art, food, and culture of Essaouira, Morocco. But the beach town is also known for its markets and craft stalls. Here are four standouts.
The covered hallways that make up the spice souk in the medina are chockablock with vendors proffering all sorts of exotic spices piled high in colorful mounds. You’ll also find herbal cures, weight-loss teas, natural Viagras, and poppy-powder hair tints, among other earthy concoctions.
Every morning, fishermen hawk their catch at the fish market, a series of blue-and-white stalls down by the docks. Fresh-from-the-ocean red snapper and sardines are sold by weight, and vendors are happy to grill up your selection for a portside lunch.
Apprentices learn the age-old craft of jewelry making at the Bijouterie cooperative near the Bab Marrakech Place entrance to the medina. You can watch students and teachers etch traditional motifs, such as the khamissa (hand of Fatima) symbol, into silver adornments, and buy necklaces and rings on your way out.
The seaside street, Rue de Skala, boasts a number of artisanal marquetry shops. Moallem (master carvers) painstakingly sculpt thuya and eucalyptus wood into detailed furniture. Tables made using the intarsia technique are a specialty.