The Cultural Markets Of Israel

There is nothing quite like a trip to an Israeli ‘shuk’, which is a market in arabic. From food to antique gifts, dried fruit and baked pastries, you cannot visit the Middle East and neglect a trip to one of Israel’s most famous markets. The markets are one of my favourite pastimes when I visit and every time I do, I find new and exhilarating elements of the market I had never once noticed.

On my recent trip to Shuk Hatikva, the famous food market of Tel Aviv, we had decided to visit on a Friday, early in the morning before Shabbat. What an experience – dubbed their most profitable and busiest day, it was a bewildering experience. Men, women and children with their shopping trolleys, full to the brink, hurrying through each and every stool to collect the essentials for meals over the weekend. It is a bombardment of unfamiliar products that are sold by half-spoken, half-sung vendors, in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Songs, chants and unusually loud projected voices is all you can hear whilst fast-paced visitors are rummaging through fresh fruit and vegetables.

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What is so utterly brilliant about the markets in Israel is the cultural familiarity and awareness that both Jews and Israeli Arabs, come together to sell and buy the same produce of the land they live in. It is a remarkable experience, and everyone is friendly and more than willing to negotiate a good price (a must-have for market shopping!).

The Carmel Market, just down the road near Alanby in Tel Aviv, begins at a six-way intersection and continues almost to the sea. The market offers shoppers a varied experience, than your typical fruits and vegetables like the Shuk Hatikva. The market is a hub for centralised tourism, and you will never be far from a tourist group or two. Between haggling with market vendors, to tasting a piece of dried mango, the market has an aura of adventure and intrigue.

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A must-have market to visit when visiting Jerusalem is the Arab Shuk, in the Old City. The market has been around since the Ottoman Era and nowadays features a fantastic variety of traditional and kitschy souvenirs. The market has a variety of goods from jewellery, antique homeware, shesh pesh (aka backgammon boards), novelty t-shirts and religious artefacts; from paintings, to portraits to prayer books and accessories. The market is one of the most famous to visit in the Old City and of course haggling is to be done here – so be sure to understand how much something is worth before purchasing.

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Feature image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitisrael/