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Moroccan architecture


Moroccan architecture is a term describing Moroccan architectural style. Morocco is in Northern-Africa bordering the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The country's diverse geography and the land’s long history marked by successive waves of settlers and military encroachments are all reflected in Morocco's architecture. Its architecture reflects the country's rich cultural and historical heritage.

Morocco’s first independent state called the Berber kingdom of Mauretania was ruled by the Berbers clan. It was first documented during 110 BC. During the time of the Berbers, the country has been through several sieges by a number of invaders. Nevertheless, the Berbers ritual and beliefs still remained and became the country’s cultural heritage including its antique architecture. The Berbers are known for their use of earth or mud brick called pisé (French). Many of the massive pisé buildings had defensive functions as main trading posts and ports or guard walls against pirates and rivals. This ancient building method prevails in all sizes of buildings. Since pisé is a water- permeable material, the foundation is required to be rebuilt regularly; however, the repeating use of forms, materials and patterns resulted as Morocco’s distinctive architecture. Moreover, Moroccan traditional architecture also gained influences from neighboring countries and intruders.

Morocco was not originally an Islamic country; the conversion of the Berber tribes in Morocco to Islam by Idris I of Morocco greatly influenced the overall architectural style of the country. The elegance of Islamic features is blended in and adapted into buildings and interior designs such as the use of tiling, fountains, geometric design and floral motifs. Which could be seen in mosques, palaces, plazas as well as homes. The materials chosen for the interiors of Moroccan classical architecture, are due in part to the necessity of cooling in the arid land climate of Morocco.

Modern day Spain was a Moorish domain from the early 8th century to the late 15th century and was known as Al-Andalus 711 AD to 1492 AD. During the 11th century the berber dynasty of the Almohad Caliphate, ruled Morocco and the southern part of modern day Spain the most famous of their remaining buildings are the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, the Giralda of Seville, Spain and the Hassan Tower, in Rabat, Morocco. The Almoravid dynasty ruled Morocco and the southern half of Spain through the 12th century. The Marinid dynasty from the 13th through the 15th century, rule both Moroccan and Southern Spain until the Reconquista with the fall of Granada in 1492, effectively ending the Moorish era in Iberia. Moorish architecture therefore evolved into a distinct form. The elements of which are as follows


Color Color Range Symbolism Usage
Blue Greenish Turquoise, Fresh Fez Blue, Electric Majorelle Blue, Dark and Light Indigos Sky, Heaven, Water, Planet Mercury. Muslims believed the color could protect them from evil’s eyes, also believe that it can enhance one medical and cosmetic condition. Tiling, Floor, Textiles, Door and window frames, Garden furniture
White White, Ivory, Beige Cleanness, Good luck, Beauty, Femininity. Based on Muslim belief these colors connote moral qualities. Commonly found in textiles using different materials. As a complement to other Moroccan patterns that use darker colors.
Red Salmon, Rosy Pink, Fuchsia, Apple Red, Brick Red, Carmine, Violet, Bordeaux Female, Sexuality, Fertility, Childbirth which relates to happy marriage. Some said it also represent the planet Mars. Walls, Roof tiles, Carpets, Pottery
Black Black, Soft Black, Smoke, Brown Though the scheme is popularly used, however it holds a negative connotation. Believe that these colors are likely to bring bad luck and grief. Mosaic, Carpets, Textiles. However it is use frequently in various items since it is a base color in their design.
Green Bottle Green, Blue Green, Grass Green The color relates with the Muslim interpretation of heaven presumably because it is in between the reddish hell and the blue heaven based on their belief. Pottery, Tiling, Ceiling Painting, Furniture
Yellow Gold, Lemon Yellow, Dark Yellow, Orange Yellow, Orange Gold, Wealth, Sun. Believed that these colors would protect them from evil. Textiles and embroidery, Tiling, Painted decoration on furniture, Leather products, Carpets

  • Tiles – Zellige tiling, often wrongly labelled "mosaic", is used to decorate the surfaces of buildings and objects, principally interior walls, floors, and fountains. Modern use of zellige has extended the use to furniture and other interiors.
  • Fountains – Before the conversion, water was already an important part of Moroccan culture; however, Islam made water much more important functionally because Muslim because of the ritual ablution before prayer. Thus, fountains, also representing paradise, could be found everywhere in order to serve everyone.
  • Mosques – Following the introduction of Islam, mosques were built in Morocco with their distinct architectural features.
  • Geometric Design and Floral Motifs Arabesque – Based on Islamic beliefs, avoiding the use of human or animal images is preferable resulting in the spread of floral motifs (arabesques) and geometric patterns. The motifs in Moroccan architectural decor are chiefly carved into stone, plaster and wood.
  • Arches – Arches are common feature in Morocco, which can be divided into two types. The first arch is the horseshoe which is clover shaped. The second is cusped like a rounded keyhole. These are called Moorish arches.
  • Tiling – Overlapping roof tiling became popular after the influence of Spain; the tiles are mostly hand glazed.
  • Andalusian gardens – The landscape of the Alhambra garden in Grenada is the greatest inspiration for Moroccan public and private gardens.
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Wikipedia

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