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jemaa el fna vs. souk

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Paris, France
posts: 899
reviews: 75
jemaa el fna vs. souk

What is the difference between jemaa el fna vs. the souks?

I'm trying to find a hotel and it looks like people are saying different distances from each, I thought it was the same kind of thing. Please let me know the difference so I can decide which to book a hotel closer to.


Manchester, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 4,961
reviews: 12
1. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

The square is an outdoor event unlike anything else you will see in Morocco. In the daytime the square is an entertainment area with Moroccan dancing groups, traders, performing monkeys, a "dentist" showing his impressive collection of teeth, performing monkeys, snake charmers etc. In the evening the square is transformd into an outdoor eating extravaganza in the form of scores of restaurants which are set up just before sunset..

The souk surrounds the square in a manner of speaking and is mainly for shopping for leather goods, silver, pottery, clothing etc and is vast.

Within the medina (defined as the old part of the city set behind a wall) you will find riads which are an alternative to hotels.

I am largely unfamiliar will riads and have only stayed in a few choosing hotels for convenience so will await the experience of others to advise on those overlooking the square and souks..

Edited: 5:00 am, March 26, 2013
Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 4,324
reviews: 55
2. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

Djemma al Fna is an irregularly shaped polygon and is located in the centre of the medina of Marrakech. It is commonly refered to as la Place or in English simply the Square. It is a large open meeting place traditionally associated with entertainers, especially in the evening when the food stalls appear.

Souks are simply markets. The more touristy souks selling all sorts of artisan wares surround the square, particularly to the north.

There are a few hotels within the medina. Most are of the backpacker type although some more upmarket hotels advertise themselves as riads. Traditional riads are common throughout the medina. These are authentic three storey townhouses and offer an ambiance which cannot be matched by modern hotels. Service tends to be more personal too with staff/owners offering their experiences.

Frankly location does not really matter as you can walk from anywhere in the medina to Djemma al Fna within 30 minutes. However as a general rule the closer to la place you are the busier it becomes, especially in the evening. A compromise would be to look for a riad some 10 to 15 minutes walk away. Having said that Marrakech is not a late night city and the hustle and bustle calms down after midnight.

Paris, France
posts: 899
reviews: 75
3. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

Thanks for those 2 replies. You mention that around the jemaa el fnaa there are souks that are touristy. Are there less touristy souks in or near marrakech you can recommend?

Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 7,878
reviews: 63
4. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk


The whole of Rue Bab Doukkala in the north west of the medina for example is a local souk as is the souk el Khemis (sometimes known as the flea market though it's much more than that), also north west medina and there are many held on certain days in the villages in the mountains you can visit as part of a day trip.

Edited: 9:14 am, March 26, 2013
Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 4,324
reviews: 55
5. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

One such weekly souk arriving each Monday is at Souk Tnine de L'Ourika, the first village at the beginning of the Ourika valley. About 40 minutes drive from Marrakech. Beware of Berber ladies selling "silver" jewellery! They are mistresses of the hard sell. Otherwise local produce and handicrafts are on offer. Prepare yourselves for some hard bargaining.

Timbuktu, Mali
posts: 20
6. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

Dont.....just book a hotel in Gueliz. It costs 10 - 15 Dirhams max by 'petite' taxis to get to and from 'the experience' ie. la place(pronounced plus) . Meanwhile as for your question...the difference....to me....no difference....it is all one ......get stuck in.....for the experience of souks and jemaa el fna....you have to explore the whole area. Be prepared for the good , the bad and the ugly !

7. Re: jemaa el fna vs. souk

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