Morocco has witnessed a long line of invaders including Saharans, Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Ottomans, Arabs, Spanish and French. The region was conquered by Muslim Arabs by the 7th century and since then, Islam has had the most significant impact on Moroccan architecture. Islamic architecture is highly decorative and functional, characterised by geometric patterns, tiles, fountains, horseshoe arches, and floral arabesques carved into stone or wood.
Traditional Moroccan tiles, or Zellij, were introduced, with spectacular geometric tiles lining the interiors and exteriors of buildings across Morocco. The classic colours are green, blue, brown, white, and black, and you’ll spot all kinds of intricate patterns like diamonds, stars, and triangles. Fountains are an integral part of Islamic Moroccan architecture, as they represent paradise. They’re also a place where Muslims can perform purification rituals before prayers.
You’ll spot Islamic Moroccan architecture almost everywhere, from the dazzling domes and towers to the elaborate mosques, palaces, and plazas. Some famous examples include Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, one of the largest mosques in the world. The towering minaret soars 210 metres into the sky. The interiors and exteriors are decorated with vibrant tiles, hand-carved wood and stone, pink granite, marble, chandeliers, giant archways, and gilded grandeur.
In Marrakesh, don’t miss the spectacular El Bahia Palace, built in the late 1800s in stunning Alaoutie designs. From the sweeping archways, marble courtyard and ornamental gardens, to the bright tiling, painted ceilings, silk panels, and stained glass, this is an architectural masterpiece.
Read more: Our pick of Europe’s 11 most culturally rich cities