While searching about Morocco, you might have encountered Riad or Moroccan Riad a lot? A Riad is Essentially a type of traditional home that follows certain standards of design and architecture, which can be found in Morocco, especially the old Medinas (old town) of the imperial cities such as Fez and Marrakech. However, a Riad is not only characterized by its structure. Many historical and cultural variables play a role in the construction of such a type of house. These days many of the Riads are hotels, guesthouses…; a huge number of tourists prefer to accommodate in the exotic ambiance of Riads that modern hotels cannot provide.
In this article we will explore the Moroccan Riad, so stay with us to learn more about them. You might even consider visiting one on your next trip.
The history of the Moroccan Riad
A Riad in Arabic means a garden that is divided into four parts and it has a fountain in the middle. The roots of this kind of design return to the ancient Mesopotamians and even to Iran and India. However, ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and the Islamic world also adopted the Riad architecture and they added their twists on them.
The Moroccan Riad owes its beginnings to the ancient Roman city Volubilis that is situated near Fez. After the establishment of the Islamic state in Morocco by the Sultan Moulay Idriss I during the 7th century, Moroccan architecture was influenced by the remains of the buildings of Volubilis, among them was the Riad. Moroccans adopted the design and enhanced upon it with the help of many artisans that came from Andalusia (ancient Spain). During the 12th century, the Riads were built everywhere around the Moroccan imperial cities like Fez and Marrakech, especially by the royal families, powerful people, and the bourgeoisie.
The architecture of the Moroccan Riad
The Riad is a building that is mainly focused on the inside. All the flours and rooms face inwards toward the courtyard with the fountain and the garden that sometimes has a tree in the middle. The high flours have a balcony and the ceiling over the courtyard is exposed. The flours and walls along with the doors and the windows tend to be heavily decorated by mosaic, wood, and metal artisans. That’s why every Riad as a piece of art is special from the others.
However, from the outside, Riads seem to be dull and insignificant. Other than a decorated wooden door, the Riad has no windows (or very small windows sometimes); it’s just a blank wall from the outside. This makes the Riad accessible to the outside only from the door. The reason behind this architecture is protection against the weather and for the privacy of the family.
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The culture Behind the Moroccan Riad
The Riads are built to match the conservative norms of the Moroccan bourgeois, who were mainly big families where the big father and mother live alongside their children and grandchildren, or men who have several wives. The Moroccan families are very protective of their wives and daughters; they built the Riads to serve that. The Riad’s courtyard serves as a place where the women and girls can dwell because they rarely go outside; that’s only reserved for special occasions. There is also a distinction between the spaces in the Riads between the places that are only family and others that are semi-public where guests can sit.
The Riad is like a fortress that the father builds to protect the privacy of his wife and children from the outside eyes, which could bring problems sometimes, especially during those times of conservatism.
Riads in modern Morocco
These days, many of the most ancient and beautiful Riads are repaired and work as hotels, restaurants or cafes. The fact that the old Medinas of Fez and Marrakech are UNESCO world heritage sites, has given the Riads that are built inside of them a whole new dimension of historical value. That’s why many foreign investors and rich people have bought their Riads; it’s because they are considered world heritage.
Many tourists find it quite interesting to spend their time in such an exotic type of building. A lot of them prefer to stay in a good Riad rather than a fancy modern hotel. And many rich foreigners even chose to buy a Riad to live in it.
The experience of a Moroccan Riad
When you stay in a Riad it’s a more intimate experience because they are often owned and run by the same person who makes sure to give each visitor a personalized treatment. The Riads also have a small number of rooms, which also adds to the intimate atmosphere.
The services that you can find in a Riad match the ones of hotels. However, with the Riads, it feels more Moroccan and authentic.
Riads are a huge cultural heritage that Morocco has and still preserves. They show us a lot about Moroccan culture through the way they’re built. And also they fun places to dine or stay in. One has to check out a Moroccan Riad at least once in their lifetime. We hope this article has helped you get an idea about the Moroccan Riad. If you need to know more about Morocco check out our other articles or contact us, we are always happy to answer your questions. Please leave a comment in the section below. Feel free to share your opinions.