If you’re fond of flea markets and if you are on the lookout for architectural remnants from past times, Bab El Khemis is the place to go in Marrakesh. “Bab” is the Arabic word for gate and, of the 12 gates in the 12 kilometer long, rose-pink 12th-century wall that wraps around Marrakech’s old city, known as the “Medina”, Bab el Kermis is one of the oldest.
Bab al Khemis, which means Thursday’s Door in Arabic, is the entryway to the city’s equivalent of the flea market, and has been described as “one of world’s greatest mixes of junk and treasure”.
At this Bab, visitors can stroll through and find old huge wooden doors that once belonged to the rooms of a riad (townhouse in the Medina). There are even monumental old wooden entrance gates. Due to the rich cultural and handwork heritage of Morocco, there are an incredible variety of antique Moroccan doors and door styles available here, ranging from studded front doors, palatial brass doors, paneled internal wooden doors, glazed and Mashrabiya doors, double sized courtyard doors, to rustic Berber doors. So many doors and more than one way to upcycle them!
However, Bab el Kermis has even more to offer. Besides old doors, door knockers, bolts and handles, any savvy flea market shopper might very well find hidden gems like old art deco furniture from the French colonial period, vintage mopeds and bicycles, ancient sewing machines, window grills, decorative arches, tables and chairs, rolls of antique rugs, Lloyd-loom chairs, exquisitely painted tables, plastic garden recliners, vintage bathroom & kitchen sink, and many other appliances in the chunky cut-corner style of Art Deco.
Bab el Khemis is by far the best and easiest spot for door shopping. It is not really on the tourist map and tucked away in the north of the Medina, but in amidst its raucous web of streets is an unmatched concentration of specialists who offer much more attractive pricing. However don’t forget this is Marrakesh and some haggling is requisite to strike a good deal.
Last but not least, if you wish to go the extra mile, Souk El Khemis is the place you want to visit. This souk offers an amazing mix of junk and treasures, from vintage furniture spanning most of the twentieth century to Moroccan antique rugs, jewelry, pottery. Souk El Khemis is located on the northeast edge of the Medina by the Bab El Khemis. Note that many shops will be closed on Friday, the Muslim holy day.