Amazing Moroccan Architecture
Ait ben Haddou, Ouarzazate
Ait ben Haddou, located in Ouarzazate, is an ancient ksar consisting of a group of fortified kasbahs. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has served as a location set for numerous blockbuster films such as The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), and Babel (2006). Situated on the old caravan route from Marrakesh to the Sahara, this magnificent structure stands proudly on one side of the Ounila Valley, offering a glimpse into Morocco's rich cultural and architectural history.
Armed village, near Imlil, High Atlas Mountains
Nestled in the High Atlas Mountains near Imlil, the Armed village offers a stunning example of Berber mountain village architecture. Treks around the Imlil region provide breathtaking scenery and an opportunity to explore hundreds of small villages that dot the dramatic mountainsides. For climbers seeking to summit North Africa's highest peak, Mount Toubkal, the Armed village is the perfect base camp. Immerse yourself in the local culture, savor the picturesque surroundings, and discover the architectural wonders of this charming village in the heart of the Atlas Mountains.
Bahia Palace, Mellah, Marrakesh
Mellah's Bahia Palace, located in Marrakesh, was built with the aim of creating the greatest palace of its time. Considered a must-visit attraction in the Red City, it is a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture that reflects a range of influences. The palace's construction took place in two stages, under the guidance of Si Moussa and his son, resulting in an irregular layout that only adds to its charm. With its intricate tilework, elegant courtyards, and ornate decorations, Bahia Palace stands as a testament to Morocco's rich cultural heritage and architectural prowess.
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
Located on the Northern Atlantic coast of Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the largest mosque in the country, and the 13th largest in the world. Completed in 1993, the mosque boasts the tallest minaret in the world, standing at a height of 210 meters. Designed by Michel Pinseau and constructed by the Bourgues, the minaret is a striking feature of the mosque's skyline, with a laser at the top pointing towards Mecca. The mosque's grandeur and exquisite architecture make it a significant religious and cultural landmark in Morocco, drawing visitors from around the world.
Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Tangier
Perched atop the promontory of Cap Spartel, the Cap Spartel Lighthouse in Tangier offers stunning views of the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, and Gibraltar on a clear day. As the most northwestern point of mainland Africa, it is a popular destination for tourists seeking breathtaking scenery and a chance to explore the grand palaces and upscale neighborhoods of Tangier. While it is not possible to go inside the lighthouse, a visit to this area is still well worth it, with nearby attractions such as Plague Robinson and the Cave of Hercules adding to the allure. Embrace the serenity of the Cap Spartel Lighthouse and indulge in the natural beauty of this magnificent coastal region.
Jardin Majorelle, Marrakesh
Nestled in the heart of Marrakesh, the Jardin Majorelle is a spectacular botanical garden featuring a vibrant blue and yellow structure designed by Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s. The garden also houses the Museum of Islamic Art, which showcases the artwork of Jacques Majorelle, and a delightful yet slightly expensive café. To fully appreciate the garden's serene beauty, it's best to visit early in the morning or late afternoon, before the arrival of large tour groups. The Jardin Majorelle holds a special place in Moroccan history and culture, having been owned by the fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. In fact, Saint-Laurent's ashes were scattered in the garden, cementing its status as a must-visit destination for visitors to Marrakesh.
Round Minaret, Moulay Idriss
The sacred town of Moulay Idriss, known as the burial place of the founder of Islam in Morocco, also boasts a unique religious structure: the only round minaret in the country. This minaret was added to the much older mosque in 1939, and its design is unparalleled in the Islamic world. The intricate tile patterns on the minaret depict a Sura reading from the Koran, and it is connected to the Idriss Medersa, an ancient and highly significant Koranic school located within the walls of the sacred medina.
Telouet Kasbah ceiling, Atlas Mountains
Telouet is situated at the end of the Ounila Valley, near Ait ben Haddou, on the ancient caravan trading route that connects Marrakesh to the Sahara. It was the residence of Thami El Glaoui, Pacha of Marrakesh, but the building is now in ruins and slowly deteriorating with little restoration efforts. However, some rooms still feature well-preserved mosaic zelij displays that are considered among the finest examples of Islamic architecture and design in Morocco. The main room boasts a remarkable cedar wood ceiling and a glass ceiling.
The old medina of Fez is another stunning UNESCO World Heritage protected site and is considered to be the best preserved example of a medieval medina in the Arab world. It’s labyrinth of streets are notoriously difficult to navigate and most of it’s layout, madrasas, fondouks, palaces, mosques and fountains date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, when Fez was the capital city of Morocco. The heart of the medina is full of amazing Arab and Al-Andalus architecture and design, with a high concentration of stunning mosaic zelij displays.
Volubilis, Walili, Moulay Idriss.
Volubilis, also known as Walili in Moroccan Arabic, is a historic site that has been inhabited by both Amazigh and Roman ancestors. The UNESCO-protected ruins of the Roman colonial town in North Africa are still prominent at the site and are remarkably well-preserved. To fully experience the ruins, it's best to plan an overnight stay in Moulay Idriss, which is Morocco's most sacred medina and located only 3km away from the site.
Colonial French Cottage, Ifrane
The Colonial French Cottage in Ifrane takes its name from the local Amazigh dialect, where "Ifran" means "cave" and is a reference to the Berber ancestors who once inhabited this region's caves. While there are no longer any cave dwellings in Ifrane, troglodyte (cave) dwellings can still be found across the Middle Atlas plateau, primarily in the nearby town of Bhalil. Built by the French during their occupation in 1928, Ifrane is often referred to as the "Petit Swiss" of Morocco because of its architecture, which resembles a mountain town in Switzerland. The town is also known as the "garden of Morocco" for its lush scenery, cedar forests, Alpine climate, and seasonal changes. Although it is often overlooked by travelers due to its lack of traditional appeal, the Ifrane and Azrou National Park, along with the cedar forests, boast some of Morocco's most stunning scenery, including Middle Atlas towns and villages, with the Barbary Macaque also calling the area home.
Mediterranean Moroccan architecture, Sidi Ifni
Located in the southern region of Morocco, Sidi Ifni is a tranquil fishing village with a Mediterranean ambiance. Its past as a Spanish colony, as part of the Treaty of Tangiers, was crucial in Spain's control over the Western Sahara. This history is reflected in the town's architecture, which displays a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish styles in many of its buildings. Additionally, the natural arches of Legzira Beach, located just north of the town, offer stunning views of the coastline.
Amtoudi Lookout, Guelmim
The Amtoudi Lookout in Guelmim is a historical observation post located near the Amtoudi Granary (Agadir Id Aissa) and is a remarkable illustration of the strategic defense techniques employed by the Amazigh ancestors. Its vantage point overlooks the desert and oasis surroundings, making it impossible for attackers to launch a surprise attack on the Amtoudi granary (Agadir). The Agadir Id Assia is widely regarded as the best-preserved agadir in Morocco, and we will be sharing more about these impressive structures in an upcoming blog post. Keep scrolling down to see an example of a granary building situated near Taliouine.
Traditional Berber House, Tafraoute, Souss-Massa
Tafraoute is situated in the heart of the Anti Atlas mountain range, making it an ideal destination for activities such as trekking, cycling, and rock climbing. The area has a rich Amazigh heritage and consists of numerous small Berber villages, featuring homes that blend into the rocky terrain and resemble the surrounding rock formations. Dominating the town is the striking Napoleons Hat rock escarpment, while the region also boasts a unique modern art installation created by Belgian artist Jean Veran, which involved using over 18 tonnes of paint to cover large rocks with bright blue, red, white, and pink colors.
Hassan Tower, Rabat
The Hassan Tower is an incomplete minaret that was originally intended for a mosque that was never fully erected. It was constructed in 1195 with the ambitious goal of being the tallest minaret worldwide. However, construction came to a halt after the death of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour. The tower, made from red sandstone, stands at a height of 44m, and a small section of the mosque's walls were also built before construction was abandoned, along with 200 columns that were meant to support the mosque.
University of Al Quaraouiyine, Fez
This religious school in the heart of the Fez medina was founded in 859 by Farima al-Fihri and is the oldest existing, continually operating educational institution in the world. It is now fully incorporated into Morocco’s modern state university system and focuses on teaching Islamic religious and legal sciences, Classical Arabic and Maliki law. It’s horse shoe shaped arches and ‘ijmiz’ frames are decorated with geometric and floral Andalusian artwork and Kufic calligraphy.
Octagonal Minaret, Tetouan
Tetouan played a significant role as a cultural bridge between Morocco and Southern Spain during the 8th century. The city was largely built by Andalusian exiles who were forced to flee from the Spanish Reconquista's Al-Andalus. Tetouan's old medina, similar to Fez, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts a multitude of mosaic and zelij displays. Situated just a few miles from the Strait of Gibraltar, Tetouan's residents widely speak Spanish, and small Christian and Jewish communities still call the city home. The northern region of Morocco is home to several octagonal minarets, unlike the traditional square design, which can also be found in Chefchaouen, Ouezzane, Asilah, Rabat, and Tangier. These unique minarets reflect the diverse blend of cultures and heritage present in the region.
Rennovated riad architecture, Marrakesh
Staying in a luxurious riad located in the heart of a beautiful medina, such as Marrakesh or Fez, is an excellent way to begin and end your Moroccan adventure. Traditionally, a Moroccan riad refers to a house or palace that features a small garden or courtyard and an open roof in the center. The term "riad" is derived from the Arabic word for garden, "ryad." This architectural style is believed to date back to the Idrisid Dynasty and was influenced by the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, which incorporated water pools inside buildings to cool down spaces during the hot summer months. Recently renovated riads in Marrakesh display the rich cultural heritage of Morocco while offering modern comfort and luxury.
Are you interested in experiencing these architectural wonders in person? We can assist you in booking your trip to Morocco today! Our team of knowledgeable local experts is available to create a personalized tour tailored to your preferences.