The urban modern architecture in Morocco also takes its inspiration from the old architectural styles. There are four imperial sites that have some of the grandest structures and the rich cultural and architectural heritage can be seen at these sites. Royal palaces, mosques, royal necropolis and many other religious places exhibit beautiful pieces of architecture and art. The style that is represented in the buildings is known as Hassanian architecture.
The other style of architecture that is prevalent here is known as Berber architecture. The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco and the elements that they incorporated in making the buildings usually come from Earth. The buildings were built with soil that had been reinforced with limestone for added protection and strength. A muddy mixture was made in which straw, gravel and limestone was mixed and then applied to the wooden frame. When dried, the final product was so strong, that it needed a hammer to break it down.
Muslim influence from Spain
The Muslim influence from Spain began to be felt around 1062. The Spanish coast is only 8 miles from the northern most tip of Morocco. Tangiers is located at this tip and it’s very easy to sail across to Europe. This is the reason, that Moroccan cities have a very cosmopolitan look as well. One of the grandest monuments known as Koubba El Badiyin is located in the city of Marrakech and is a tribute to the architectural styles of Spain. Around the 11th century, different elements had slowly creeped in, though the building materials were almost the same. Stone was also being used in certain select buildings as well. The example of such a structure would be the ‘Bab Agnaou’ gate.
Around 1276, the woodwork was also incorporated into the architectural styles as well. The Mernids brought the style of working with wood with them. Wood wasn’t used for building the structure, but rather wood was used for building the intricately pattern door of the houses. Mosques and other religious centers commissioned many exquisite doors and they are on display at the Dar Si Said Museum.
The most recent influence on Moroccan architecture has been the French since 1912, when Morocco became a French protectorate. The new style of architecture that was precipitated after the French arrival is now known by the name of European Moorish architecture. After the French left, the style also faded way and new styles have evolved since then.
With tourism being a major thrust area, there are many cities in Morocco that are witnessing a revival of their past grandeur. These cities have also seen a large influx of population as well. Architects are also been kept busy in recreating and restoring the homes from yester years. The traditional styles of stucco and zellij tiling are still popular as ever. In the cities and the villages reinforced mud bricks are still being used as primary building materials.
Filed Under: About Morocco