Jemaa el Fnaa (Morocco)
Since the beginning of the first millennium, Jemaa el Fnaa in Marrakech, Morocco has provided the community with food, entertainment, necessities and more. Today, it is renowned as one of the busiest and most colorful market places in the world. Everyday following the call to prayer, hundreds of merchants gather to peddle their wares. Visitors should be prepared for high-pressure sales tactics as the practice is one of the markets defining characteristics. You can find items ranging from kebabs, furniture, clothes, souvenir baubles, and much more. Throughout the day, Chleuh boys dance for the crowd in female attire; if girls were to dance it would be thought of as improper. Snake charmers wow onlookers as little children showcase their pet Barbary macaques, a native species of ape. From dusk until dawn this expansive market place bustles with the sounds of music heard amidst the solicitations of clever salesmen. In an effort to combat commercial and industrial exploitation, UNESCO enacted the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity project, a programme that protects the essence and charm of this important market.
Marche des Ferishes (Togo)
A trip to the Marche des Ferishes (or the Fetish Market) in Lome, Togo is sure to leave a lasting impression on those who visit. A somewhat disturbing sight to a Westerner, native people regard the market as no less than a local pharmacy. Selling the extremities, hides, bones, and teeth of multiple species of animal, it is the market’s purpose to provide ingredients for healing remedies and rituals. In this part of the world, Voodoo and Juju are often given the same merit as western medicine. In an interview with BBC News, a spiritual healer named Joseph said, “When someone has a serious sickness and the hospital cannot help, they come here to the fetish market.” He goes on to explain how he makes a specific healing treatment for those who are sick by grinding up animal heads with herbs. He then places the concoction over a fire and rubs the charred remains into three incisions which he would make on a patients back or chest. Though the items in the market may seem gruesome, the healers that use them seem to have pure intentions and wish only to serve their community.
Brimfield Antiques Show (USA)
In September of 1959, almost 70 antiques dealers gathered on a field in the small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts. Today, it’s known as the Brimfield Antiques Show and it has grown to over 5,000 exhibitionists. The show is spread out over 100 acres, attracting 1 million collectors from all corners of the globe. Each May, July, and September people converge on what is sometimes referred to as the “Antiques Capital of the World.” You can find anything from estate jewelry, rare furniture, glassware, and vintage appliances, as well as many other objects you didn’t know you needed. For first time visitors, the energy is almost palpable. The population of the Brimfield grows exponentially during the show and takes on a culture and ambiance of its own. As it takes place in rural Massachusetts, a car rental in Boston is the best way to get to the Brimfield Antiques Show and to explore historic New England. For bargain hunters and antique fanatics, this is a must-do!