Saturday, July 7, 2007

THE MEDINA AND RIADS OF MOROCCO


The Term Médina (in Arabic madina) , means old city in contrast to the modern (European style) city. All great Moroccan cities have two facets: the medina or traditional town and the modern town. In a medina, at the heart of each district, are the mosque and the medersa and houses, built close to each other, creating many labyrinthine streets. Medinas are places for traders and craftsmen with souks or kissarias, specialist markets. The trading activity is a real visual show and the welcome is very warm! If you decide to buy, you will love the good humour of the traders; they have excellent relational and trading skills.


In Morocco , five medinas have been included on the UNESCO world heritage list for their architectural value.


The Fez medina shelters 143 mosques and the Quaraouyine university, reported to be the oldest university in the world. The beauty of the grandiose monuments of the medina in Marrakesh are breath taking. From the Jemaa el Fna square to Tetouan, whose monuments have been protected from external influences, with the architecture and art testifying to strong Andalusian influences. Essaouira is an exceptional example of a late eighteenth century fortified town, its rectilinear medina is unique. The town of Meknes has been listed by UNESCO. The medina with its magnificent fourteenth century medersa deserves a visit.


In addition to architectural beauty, daily life in the medina is a colourful outdoor theatre exuding wonderful fragrances of spices, fruit and mint.



In Morocco , the riads (also transcribed riyads or ryads ) represent the traditional dwelling in the Medina. Riad means 'garden' in Arabic.





As you go through the alleys of one of the Medinas in Morocco , behind the great walls with decent-looking entrance doors, hidden are the sumptuous dwellings. From the very entrance, you will have to go through an elbow-shaped corridor. It is designed in such a way as to leave no chance for any inquisitive eye to steal a glimpse of the splendor of the place. Riads being traditionally constructed in such a way as to be totally closed on the outside world to protect the intimacy of the women inside.

The authentic riads are arranged around a patio generally planted with trees ( most often orange-trees). Being at the center of the house, the patio, with vegetation and a fountain in the middle, is the vital point to which all the rooms are oriented.



The roofs and the terraces, formerly used only to perform various household chores, are today, for the most part, arranged in a way to offer the pleasure of discovering the Medina from a new viewpoint! In the course of years, the Medinas were completely abandoned by their inhabitants, who left to more modern and newer parts of town. Thus, these sublime dwellings started to fall into neglect.


It was not until the 90's that the riads have benefited from a new revival of interest in them.



Many were converted into secondary residences, guesthouses or restaurants. From Palaces to guesthouses, the spell of the riads conquered Moroccans and foreigners who have worked everyday to save this precious patrimony. The Riads of Morocco are still full of yester year ambiences; their mystery continues to fascinate a large number of foreign visitors who come for a sojourn there.

More Info to come.... More Information and Text sources to come

2 comments:

Tetouan Property said...

Beautiful pictures. I think Morocco is a beautiful country, with its ancient towns, coastal resorts and snowy peaks. And most of all I like Tetouan, it is famous for its Hispano-Moorish architecture, a fine example of which is the Khalifa Palace, built in the XVIIth century in the reign of Moulay Ismaïl. New step into this patio bathed in the scent of jasmine, listen to the music of the fountain and drink in the tranquillity before plunging into the hustle and bustle of the El Fouki souk.

Igor Prawn said...

Thank you. Please keep posting.

 
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