The best surprises found in Souks, Bazaars and Medinas across the Middle East and beyond

Much of what was the Persian Empire in the BC days were the bazaars which still remain to be the center of commerce in modern times in cities from Istanbul down to Yazd in southern Iran, and from Marrakesh to Xi’an.

Long dark covered alleyways with packed stalls staffed with smiling merchants waiting to make a deal or just share a cup of tea.  It’s the best place to visit upon arrival.  The protected wall of the bazaar give visitors relief from the outdoors and a glimpse of the cities past.

New visitors should take the time and see what they can find around each corner and inside open doorways of these ancient covered passageways.  Whether it be a mosque tucked away behind a small unassuming doorway or a foul smell that lets you know how close you are to the Tanners Souk in Fez Morocco.  The Tanners here have one of the oldest and worst jobs on earth.  The craftsmen are usually seen waist deep in vats of dye made of acid (aka pigeon droppings), pigments and cow urine used to dye raw leather.  It makes a nice picture if you can do it without passing out.  The traveler is lucky to be able to choose to take pictures or just keep on walking like I did.  Not all surprises are pleasant.

My personal favorite things about the central market of a middle eastern city whether it be called a Souk, Bazaar, or Medina is its hidden surprises and smells.

What the locals eat:

How much chicken costs in Marrekash Morroco
Price comparison of chicken Marrakech in 2008
The Pak Shuka in Yerevan
Local food in the Pak Shuka in Yerevan
Muslim Quarter in Xi'an
Muslim Quarter in X’ian

Local traditional tourist entertainment and souvenirs:

Local entertainers in Chefchaouen Morocco
These guys were very persistant..the shoes say it all
Bling in the Souq al-Hamiddiyyah Damascus
What I should have bought in ’08. Bling in the Souq al-Hamiddiyyah Damascus

Beautiful inner courtyard Mosques and architectural highlights:

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Bou Inania Medersa inside the Tanners Souk
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Rooftops of the Medina in Marrakech

Modern Life in an ancient place:

Walking home from school in Fez Morocco
Walking home from school in Fez Morocco
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Afternoon in the Souq al-Hamiddiyyah Damascus
Life inside the Medina in Marrakech
Life inside the Medina in Marrakech

These are the places where travelers can leave the guidebook behind and just get lost.  It’s nice to be able to do that once in a while.

2 thoughts on “The best surprises found in Souks, Bazaars and Medinas across the Middle East and beyond

  1. sherioz January 27, 2012 / 3:15 am

    Wonderful photos. Love them!

  2. farflungistan January 27, 2012 / 8:18 am

    Thanks 🙂 All lovely places making it easy to get great shots

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