Morocco has been affected by different cultures over the years as a result of its distinctive geographic location.
For many years, a combination of African tribes from the other side of the Sahara Desert, Islamic customs from the Arab neighbors, and European invaders produced the nation.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the nation’s distinctive architectural style, which showcases how all of these influences have combined to produce a culture unlike any other.
Morocco’s buildings feature a variety of design aspects today, although Islam has had a significant historical and contemporary influence on the nation’s architecture.
In fact, the construction and embellishment of structures in Morocco have been governed for centuries by the special decoration laws of Islam.
The Hispano-Moorish architectural style, which is typical of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, also established roots in Morocco during the Almoravid era in addition to the Islamic influence.
Today, the majority of the buildings in the nation combine these two distinct architectural forms.
Allow us to guide you through the various elements so you can better understand the wide range of structures in Morocco and their various architectural styles and elements.
Morocco is sometimes said to be a nation of charm, mystery, and beauty, and its distinctive architecture undoubtedly plays a part in these descriptions.
The majority of the nation’s artistic heritage has persisted up to the present day despite its occasionally violent history.
Moroccan architecture also heavily incorporates Islamic design aspects.
These include vibrant zellij, ornate Islamic calligraphy, and intricate geometric patterns (a ceramic-tile mosaic).
The majority of buildings also have open courtyards with magnificent gardens in the middle; these were designed as areas for seclusion and leisure.
Moroccan architecture also frequently uses the Hispano-Moorish design.
Sharp white walls, stucco roofing between the arches, and substantial domes are some of its key architectural features.
The beauty of Moroccan architecture is that these features are frequently incorporated into structures designed in an Islamic manner, including mosques and medersas (Quranic schools).
Different Structures, Different Design
Moroccan architecture stands out for its extraordinary fusion of many design elements as well as the distinctive characteristics of each of its historic structures.
Morocco is home to a variety of structures, including mosques, riads, souks, ramparts, kasbahs, palaces, and medersas, all of which have distinct functions and feature distinctive architectural styles.
Some of these will be discussed below.
The most significant buildings in Morocco, in my opinion, are mosques.
There is always at least one mosque with a towering minaret in every city, hamlet, or town, no matter how tiny.
It is understandable why tourists believe Moroccan mosques to be the pinnacle of Moroccan architecture because they feature walls and fountains covered in green and white zellige and a gorgeously decorated mihrab (a niche indicating the direction to Mecca) in stucco and marble. For some of the most exquisite examples of Moroccan mosques, visit the spiritual city of FEZ, particularly AL QUARAWINE MOSQUE . Keep in mind only the HASSAN SECOND MOSQUE in Casablanca and TIN MAL MOSQUE in the rural High Atlas Mountains are open for non-Muslims to tour inside the buildings.
Riads are the name for traditional Moroccan houses and palaces.
They were designed as private dwellings with privacy in mind.
They are inwards directed, with a courtyard in the middle, allowing for both family seclusion and weather protection in Morocco.
All of the rooms have windows that exclusively face the courtyard and open to it.
Orange or lemon trees and fountains are common decorations for courtyards.
The riad may be embellished with exquisite zellij and stucco work depending on the family’s wealth.
In Marrakech and Essaouira, numerous historic riads have undergone recent renovations, and many of them are now used as hotels and restaurants.
A type of medina, the kasbah is a fortified city built for defensive purposes. Besides their extraordinary size, kasbahs are quite impressive and were typically built in harmony with their surroundings. The massive outer walls and all the buildings inside easily blend into the background with their tan-colored exterior. The simple construction materials used enabled the interiors to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. The KASBAH DES UDAYA in Rabat in particular is quite an interesting sight to behold.
Merdersas were actual thriving centers for the study of law, philosophy, and astrology, not merely places to learn about religion.
Their architecture is distinctive in that it depicts a stark contrast between the students’ incredibly small and plain wooden dorm quarters and the enormous central courtyard, which is bordered by gorgeously ornamented arches with intricate stucco work.
The mosque enclosed within the towering school walls would also be exquisitely decorated in sweeping Islamic calligraphy and complex geometrical motifs on shining green and white zellij. It is difficult to grasp the incredible décor contrast in these schools so make sure you visit MEDERSA BOUANANIA in Fez for one of the country’s finest examples.