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Monday, August 10, 2009

Aleppo's labyrinthine souqs

Aleppo's labyrinthine medieval souq - or rather souqs within a souq - has long been one of our favorites in the Middle East, mainly because it has remained relatively untouched by tourism up until recent years - especially compared to Istanbul's Grand Bazzar and Cairo's Khan el Khalili. It's a place where locals shop for anything from women's underwear to camel meat, as much as backpackers haggle for hookah pipes and harem pants. Great buys include olive soap (buy the soap the locals buy, not the soap packaged for tourists), Syria's famous silk brocades and other textiles, and gutras (men's checked headscarves). These days you'll also find stores and stalls with their eyes on the growing tourist market selling jewellery, carpets, and brass and copperware, and spruikers on corners hustling for sales. But we prefer wandering the back-alleys, where the locals shop for their cheap plastic shoes, spangly fabrics, and children's clothes, offering a far more authentic experience.

6 comments:

Team Rees said...

I loved watching all the workers in the souks of Morocco. Later, in Greece and Turkey we often commented on seeing where the sold good were made!

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Heather on he rtravels said...

After visiting Lebanon earlier this year, the only thing I was missing was a bit of handicraft shopping in the Souk. Everyone in Beirut kept telling me not to waste my money as it was all imported from Syria anyway. So I do hope to get back and visit some of those souks for a bit of retail therapy.

Shangrila Murree said...

This is a really nice and informative blog.I loved watching all the workers in the souks of Morocco. Later, in Greece and Turkey we often commented on seeing where the sold good were made!

Xander said...

I'd love to go back to Syria... it's such an amazing country. And I'll have to pick up some olive soap while I'm there... -X