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A traditinal market in Baghdad

Al Shorjeh Market is well known as the oldest market in Baghdad. Its history can be traced back to the late Abbas Caliphate in the 13th century.


This market was originally called Rayiaheen (meaning “perfumer”) Market. The name changed to Attareen (“spice merchant”) Market, then to Al Shorjeh Market, as it is called today. The origin of the current name has various theories. Some say that it comes from the Arab word for “saltwater well” or “sesame oil”, while others say it comes from the Turkish words for “small river of saltwater”.

Anyway, the market is an important place for the people of Baghdad. They come here to buy all kinds of candles and spices for big events, such as Ramadan (the fasting month) or Eid, which is a grand festival celebrating the end of Ramadan.


There are more than nineteen alleys inside Al Shorjeh Market. Many shops are lined in the alleys, selling goods such as soap or stationaries―you can buy about anything. There are also thirteen accommodations and four mosques, as well as two traditional coffee houses, one of where singers of classical Arabian music (maqam) gather.


Sadly, a part of Al Shorjeh Market’s buildings have been destroyed by bombing and old age. Such buildings are gradually being rebuilt into new ones, which are changing the atmosphere of the traditional market.

June 2, 2011 in Iraq |