DELVE INTO PROFUSE MOROCCAN CULTURE
Moroccan culture & arts emerged through a wide set of influences, including North African, Mediterranean, and French colonial sources and pan-African, Indian, contemporary Italian, and Swedish design to create a style of living at once global and distinctively local. Today, the emergence of a new approach to architecture blending craft, interior design, and cuisine has given birth to what we call “An Architectural Revolution” spearheaded by a growing community of local and international designers, hoteliers, and chefs de cuisine.
The influence of the Berbers represents the oldest cornerstone. Berbers have lived in the deserts and mountains since prehistoric times and build morocco art and culture. Berber architecture includes the castles of red earth called Kasbahs, from which the ruling families controlled the caravan routes across the Sahara desert and through the Atlas Mountains. Berber crafts feature colorful carpets and carved doors with geometric patterns.
The creators of the new Moroccan Arts also find inspiration in traditional Berber building materials, handmade bricks and rough wooden beams among them. The Arab armies that swept North Africa in the seventh century AD and established Islam as the region’s dominant cultural force laid the second cornerstone of the new Moroccan style. Along with a new religion and language, they also brought a new design vocabulary. Because Islam forbids the representation of animate forms, this language consisted of elaborate patterns of stars and other geometric shapes, abstracted plant forms, and the calligraphy known as arabesque.The creators of the new Moroccan Arts also find inspiration in traditional Berber building materials, handmade bricks and rough wooden beams among them. The Arab armies that swept North Africa in the seventh century AD and established Islam as the region’s dominant cultural force laid the second cornerstone of the new Moroccan style. Along with a new religion and language, they also brought a new design vocabulary. Because Islam forbids the representation of animate forms, this language consisted of elaborate patterns of stars and other geometric shapes, abstracted plant forms, and the calligraphy known as arabesque.
The Arabs also brought a Persian palette of blue and white with their ceramics. After conquering North Africa, the Arabs pressed into Spain to establish the Islamic stronghold called el Andalus by the early eighth century. They set in place the third cornerstone of the new Moroccan style: the Andalusian culture, which represents a marriage of Arab and Berber influences with the Hispano-Roman roots of southern Spain.
Roman architectural forms featuring columns and loggia gained prominence combined with Arab-inspired decoration, including zellij (intricate geometric mosaics of cut ceramic tile) and tagguebbast (filigree-like borders of plaster carved while damp). The French placed the final cornerstone of the new Moroccan style during the protectorate (1912 to 1956), when they imported European building techniques and architects to construct buildings in the art deco style, often incorporating decorative flourishes borrowed from Morocco. With its pure geometric forms and intense colors, Andalusian decoration proved a perfect complement to the European art deco style, as demonstrated most famously at Marrakech’s La Mamounia Hotel, which opened its doors to an international clientele in 1923. During the last few decades, King Hassan II and his son, King Mohammed VI, protected and preserved Morocco’s architectural heritage and fostered the continued practice of its age-old crafts. They encouraged the purchase of architecturally significant palaces and private homes by local entrepreneurs and westerners with the resources to restore and transform them into guesthouses, hotels, and restaurants catering to the country’s growing international tourist trade. By so doing, these monarchs set the stage for Morocco’s contemporary style revolution. A visit to Morocco today, whether to the cosmopolitan realms of Marrakech, Rabat, and Casablanca, the ancient walled city of Fez, the wind-swept coastal town of Essaouira, or the mysterious Routes des Kasbahs in the Atlas mountains, allows travellers to discover the living legacy of these historical influences. Grand hotels are dating from the French protectorate blend early twentieth-century art deco stylishness with Moroccan decorative elegance. Intimate Riads, as the guesthouses operated in former grand urban homes are called, reveal a blend of traditional domestic architecture, with rooms arranged around colonnaded courtyards and the chic tastes of contemporary interior designers. The highpoint, both literary and figuratively, of a visit to a Riad may be the traditional breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade bread, and local honey served on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Mazelike streets of Fez or the distant peaks of the Atlas outside Marrakesh.
Couscous is the most renowned Moroccan dish, coarse semolina steamed with vegetables and spices served with lamb or chicken. Traditionally couscous is not a dish you would find at restaurants, but it is the food the locals eat on special days and the best couscous you could have is at a Moroccan household. If you wish to eat it at the restaurant remember to order it a few hours before you go.
Moroccan Harrira ( Soup)
A delicious soup made with tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, onions and a blend of Moroccan spices, the Harira will definitely be your favourite appetizer all through the trip. Muddy in colour, but exquisite in taste, Harira is one of those spicy dishes which will remind you of Morocco forever.
Usually served at the beginning of meals, Moroccan starters are presented as an accompaniment to main dishes. They vary from one region to another, but generally consist of a Moroccan salad of either raw or cooked vegetables, Briouates stuffed with chicken or minced meat, a ratatouille of peppers and tomatoes - the so-called Tektouta - and the famous Zaâlouk which is an eggplant puree. Each recipe has a special seasoning, and brings out its own flavour and colour.
Served in puff pastry form, the pastilla is either filled with fish, chicken, pigeon, or with almond. This finger licking pastry is light and subtle perfectly made for sweet and savoury lovers.
Traditionally prepared with lamb or veal in a terracotta jar, Tanjia is the staple dish of Marrakech. Long hours are necessary for its cooking, which is done in the local oven. The so tender and flavoursome meat is delights the most discerning gourmets.
Being the second staple of Morocco, Chebakia is the most popular and most favourite cake in the country. It is served with Moroccan soup or as a side-dish to tea, and is traditionnally prepared in the sacred month of Ramadan.
Gazelle Horns ( Kaab El Ghzal )
These delights top of the list of all pastries that are steming from Maghreb and oriental cuisine. In own, you’ll find ones in pastries, but also in small shops in the medinas. Made from almonds and semolina, they are often sprinkled with sesame seeds for added flavour.
The Jemaa-El-Fena square in Marrakech is full of small stalls selling fresh fruit juices that you can make up according to your taste ! This magical place, alone, is home to more than twenty fruit juice, water and soda vendors organized in horse-drawn carriages.
Moroccan Craftsmanship & Music
Moroccan Wood artist in Fez
Gnawa in Khmalia Village - Merzouga
Music is an integral part of Moroccan life. The traditional form of Arabic music, or Andalous, is performed using lutes, mandolins and flutes and is occasionally accompanied by a singer. Popular Berber music accompanies dancers and singers and is recognizable by the ancestral rhythmic sounds of tambourines (long, narrow drums). Andalusi: A Living remnant of the brilliant Spanish-Maghreban civilization, the Andalusi music of Morocco perpetuates the âla, a broad repertory of songs and instrumental music which Moroccans have jealously preserved thanks to a strong oral tradition. Besides morocco, art and culture Moroccan music are very famous among travellers.