Travel back in time and explore the history of the Moroccan riad

The hidden gems of the old city- the Riad. The origin of riads stem from Roman times and the city of Volubilis during the Idrisis Dynasty. Where does the word riad come from? The word riad stems from the Arabic word for garden. A building centered around a secret garden or courtyard. You will usually find orange or lemon trees around a centered fountain. A riad generally has 2 levels built around the central garden. Beautiful balconies give a spectacular view overlooking the lower floor. On the top floor you will usually find a peaceful roof terrace with high walls overlooking the medina.

The beautiful design of a Moroccan riad

A single large ornamental door at street level provides access to a dark corridor that will lead you to the secrets hidden within. Riads were built with an inward focus, it provided its inhabitants with privacy and protection from the weather. On the lower floor you will typically find three long and narrow rooms known as bâyts, opening onto the garden. The rooms either have doors or curtains providing privacy, it is typical to have at least one of the rooms open as a space providing a relaxing area to entertain guests known as a “bhou”. On the upper levels you will find rooms that lead to the inner balconies overlooking the magical garden. More often the rooms will have beautiful inner windows with shutters and ornamental metalwork. The ceilings are high and create a spacious feeling. The riad we stayed in had a gorgeous black wooden ceiling

Our riad, Azzouna 13 had beautiful white ornamental work going up the walls, giving it a magical and whimsical feeling. The rooms were covered in tadelakt plaster that is generally used to waterproof wet environments such as fountains and hammam’s.

The style of riads have changed over time, but the standard framework is still used in designs til this day. Many riads have been restored in recent years after being abandoned by their previous wealthy owners such as merchants and courtiers. This influx of interest from foreign investors has created a few challenges but has an equally positive effect on restoring this Unesco site and revived the old artisanal trades that were slowly being lost.
Defintaly worth staying in a riad while travelling to Marrakesh!

Love,

Willow and Coconut