Discovering Bab El Khemis: Marrakech’s Hidden Gem

In the vibrant city of Marrakech, where ancient traditions meet the bustling life of the present, lies a treasure trove for those enchanted by the allure of flea markets and the search for artefacts of yesteryear. Bab El Khemis, which means “Thursday’s Gate” in Arabic, serves as a gateway to a world where the architectural remnants of the past are woven into the fabric of the present. Nestled within the pink walls of the medina, this market invites visitors to embark on a journey through time every Thursday morning.

A gateway to history

Of the twelve gates that pierce the 12-kilometre-long 12th-century wall that surrounds the old city of Marrakech, Bab El Khemis is one of the oldest, heralding the rich history and cultural heritage for which Morocco is renowned. More than just a gateway, it’s an invitation to explore “one of the world’s greatest mixes of junk and treasure”, a place where the line between the ordinary and the extraordinary is blurred.

Bab El Khemis: A haven for door enthusiasts

At Bab El Khemis, doors are more than just functional elements; they are storied artefacts waiting to be discovered. From monumental entrance gates that once heralded the grandeur of a riad to rustic Berber doors that whisper tales of a bygone era, the market boasts an incredible variety of antique Moroccan doors. Whether you’re drawn to the intricacy of palatial brass doors, the elegance of paneled wooden doors or the charm of glazed and mashrabiya doors, Bab El Khemis offers countless ways to incorporate these pieces into modern aesthetics through upcycling.

Beyond doors

But the market offers much more than its famous doors. A stroll through its lanes might reveal French colonial Art Deco furniture, vintage mopeds and bicycles, antique sewing machines and a host of other items ranging from window grills and decorative arches to rolls of antique carpets and exquisitely painted tables. Every stall and nook hides a potential treasure just waiting to be unearthed by the discerning eye.

Navigating the market

Tucked away to the north of the medina, Bab El Khemis may not be on the tourist map, but its hidden alleyways house an unparalleled concentration of specialists. Here, the art of haggling is not just a transactional tool, but a cultural exchange essential to securing a piece of Marrakech to take home. The market’s more attractive prices compared to the more crowded souks add to its appeal for those willing to delve deeper into the heart of the city.

Souk El Khemis: extending the experience

For those whose appetite for discovery remains unquenched, the adjacent Souk El Khemis extends the adventure. Located on the north-eastern edge of the medina at Bab El Khemis, this extension of the market is a cornucopia of junk and treasures. From vintage furniture spanning most of the twentieth century to antique Moroccan carpets, jewellery and pottery, Souk El Khemis enriches the shopping experience. Visitors should note, however, that many shops close on Fridays in observance of the Muslim holy day, and plan their visit accordingly.

The bottom line

Bab El Khemis is more than just a market; it’s a gateway to the soul of Marrakech, offering a glimpse into the city’s storied past through the artefacts left behind. It is a testament to the enduring beauty and craftsmanship of Moroccan culture, inviting locals and tourists alike to explore its depths. Whether you’re a seasoned collector, a design enthusiast or simply looking for a unique souvenir, Bab El Khemis offers a shopping experience beyond the conventional, making it a must-visit destination in the heart of Marrakech.

Where: Main northern gate of the medina (historic walled city) of Marrakesh, Morocco.
When: Open every day of the week except Fridays: 10:00 – 19:00
More information: Read the full review on fleamapket

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