A souq or souk (Arabic: سوق, Hebrew: שוק shuq, Spanish: zoco, also spelled shuk, shooq, soq, esouk, succ, suk, sooq, suq, soek) is a marketplace or commercial quarter in Western Asian and North African cities. The term souq goes by many alternatives in different parts of the world; in Malta; in the Balkans, the term bedesten is used; the terms suq and sometimes monti are used for a marketplace; and in northern Morocco, the Spanish corruption socco is often used. The equivalent Persian term is "bazaar". In general a souq is synonymous with a bazaar or marketplace, and the term souq is used in Arabic speaking countries.
Evidence for the existence of souqs dates to the 6th century BCE. Initially, souqs were located outside city walls, but as cities became more populated, souqs were moved to the city center and became covered walkways. Detailed analysis of the evolution of souqs is scant due to the lack of archaeological evidence. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Western interest in Oriental culture led to the publication of many books about daily life in Middle Eastern countries. Souqs, bazaars and the trappings of trade feature prominently in paintings and engravings, works of fiction and travel writing. Shopping at souq or bazaar is a standard part of daily life throughout the Middle East. Today, souqs tend to be found in a city's medina (old quarter) and are often important tourist attractions.