Morocco has a long, colourful and diverse history that has been influenced by different cultures over the centuries.
Saharan, Islamic, African and European cultures mix together to create a beautiful and fascinating culture that is especially reflected in the architecture.
Vibrant, intricate patterns blend with natural, earthy colours of the desert to create an architectural look that is uniquely Moroccan.
Here’s a look at some of the fascinating buildings that make up the rich history of Moroccan culture.
Stunning mosques can be found in every city, town and village in Morocco. Every mosque has an elaborately decorated marble and stucco mirhab indicating the way to Mecca, while fountains and walls are predominantly covered in green and white zellige, intricately designed terra cotta tiles.
One of the finest examples of a Moroccan mosque is the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque found in the ancient, university city of Fez.
Riads are houses and palaces that were traditionally used by wealthy families as a private residence. They were built around a central courtyard, often featuring a fountain and citrus trees, for private family gatherings and protection from the extreme Moroccan weather.
To preserve the family’s privacy and respect female member’s hijab, windows in surrounding rooms could only open onto the inner courtyard. The decorative features would symbolise the wealth and importance of the family and the walls would be adorned with tadelakt plaster and colourful zellige tiles.
Kasbahs are a type of medina or fortress that were built to protect the city from attacks. It was also often used as a residence for the local leader. Like riads, kasbahs indicated the amount of wealth a prominent family had in the city. Simple construction materials such as tadelakt were used to protect the occupants from the searing heat and bitter cold extremes of the Moroccan climate.
This traditional lime-based plaster has been used in Moroccan buildings for over 2,000 years. The materials were originally sourced from the Atlas Mountains, just north of Marrakesh.
The preparation and application of tadelakt is a long and lengthy process that’s been passed on down through the centuries and is stilled used today by skilled and expert artisans.
Tadelakt means ‘to rub in’. It’s said that to fully appreciate the beauty of the polished finish, ancient artisans needed to caress it. In fact, once you see tadelakt, you’ll feel compelled to touch it, such is its effect.