Moroccan architecture is unique in its own way. It has evolved over time by the continued exposure of invaders, settlers and inspirers who had come to Morocco and to the rest of the Maghrib and had left their mark. The ancient Moroccan Berber tribes constructed their homes, ports, forts and trading posts with mud brick. The mud brick though cool was water permeable and therefore over the years the foundations of the building used to get weak. To cater to that, ancient Berbers used to use different materials like chalk and stone to prolong the life of the foundations and protect them from the rains that continuously damaged the mud brick buildings. With the advent of Islam, the Arabs brought with them sophistication in design and an elegant architecture, that included geometric designs, proportion and ratios of building areas that gave life and legacy to the Moorish architecture in Morocco. While the water was always important and sacred for the ancient Berbers, its sanctity was further enhanced by the Muslim Berbers as it was required for ablution for prayers. Fountains in a Moroccan garden became a symbol of the paradise the Muslims worshippers would attain in the afterlife. They cooled the courtyard and the ambience the fountains created was complemented beautifully by the architecture that surrounded it. Tiles were extensively used and their use was wide spread. Motifs and geometric patterns were handcrafted on to the tiles that adorned the palace’s walls and plaza floors. Stone work and masonry were celebrated by the Muslims, especially after the fall of Moorish Spain. The resettlement of the Muslims in Morocco from Spain demanded new housings. The Moors had brought with them the fashions of Muslim Spain. Morocco was able to develop the distinct horseshoe archways and clover archways that were often repeated and celebrated in Moroccan buildings. The Blues, whites and reds are common colour pallets in the Moroccan architecture. With the arrival of the French, Morocco began to urbanize. This required the housings and buildings to be constructed with a certain regulation and code. The French imposed rules that allowed the cities to spread outwards, without urban sprawl, so that facilities like water supplies, electricity and sewerage treatment could be executed more efficiently. To this day, Morocco holds a distinct place and position in Islamic architecture and design, and still celebrates the Grenadian heritage it had inherited all those years ago.
The cuisine of Morocco is heavily influenced by Arab spice. To this day Morocco imports large quantities of spices like cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger and black pepper. However, Morocco also exports its saffron, mint, olives and its world famous lemons and citrus fruits. The sea has always influence Moroccan cuisine. The tastes are sharp and intense to mild and delicate, the textures of the delights vary as well, from soft as a king shrimp to as crunchy as a spiced crepe. Moroccan food goes hand in hand with the bounties of the sea. Fresh sea food is always available and fish, crabs, eels, lobsters and shrimp are always on the diet. Moroccan meals usually start with salads and locally produced vegetables including aubergines, cucumbers and mints that are used to flavour it. Meats are commonly favoured and red meat is eagerly consumed with pieces of bread or couscous. Desserts usually have just seasonal fruits or almond and sugar pastries.
Making Moroccan mint tea is considered a national delicacy and an art form in Morocco. The mint tea leaves need to be brewed just right and long snouted jugs pour the tea in two stages from a great height so that the tea is aerated and bubbles are formed in the cups in which it is served.
As westernization takes its roots in Morocco; the country is seeing a major shift in the lifestyle of people in cities like Tangier, Casablanca and Rabat while cities like Fes and Marrakesh are still extremely traditional and adherent to orthodox values. The diversity and variation in lifestyle are so staggering, as you see skyscraper reaching the upper limits of the sky in cities but a few mud houses with donkeys as the only medium of transportation in the distant villages. The people of Morocco are warm and kind. When they make a friend, they almost instantaneously invite them for a meal in their homes, no matter how much they have for themselves. They tend to make relationships for the sake of relationships, not for personal gain. Occasionally, the Moroccan home accommodates an extended family with close bonds, love and hugs. Moroccans don’t only ask about your health but also the well-being of your family and friends who they might have never met. Traditional men and women wear a djellaba, which is like a long cloak, with women adding a head scarf to it. While men and women go to bars and pubs in the west, people in Morocco go to hammams and public bathing areas, always segregated between genders. Moroccans love to exfoliate their skins and wash their hair without rushing. They socialize and exchange ideas in the hammams and create new bonds. Modern Morocco is booming with technology and a youth that is vibrant, powerful and eager to live and learn.