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:
Local traditional tourist entertainment and souvenirs:
Beautiful inner courtyard Mosques and architectural highlights:
Modern Life in an ancient place:
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.