Hello!…. This is an articl writen by a canadian visitor, fascinated by the thousand -year-old city:marakech,
You can feel the same fashination when you are in front of the thousand -year-old doors and walls of oujda,
Like bab algharbi, bab sidi abdelwahab, and others monuments;
As a Canadian planner, it is not often that I’m faced with the dilemma of how best to preserve a 1000 year old palace… in fact, if a private home reaches the ripe old age of 100 in Canada, we tend to slap a plaque on it and adopt a strict policy that one best not breathe on ye olde heritage building lest the cultural richness be tarnished.
Faced with ancient and large-scale buildings, heritage planning in other countries is presumably slightly more complicated. Plus, given the religious heritage in most of the buildings, it’s usually tied up in not wanting to anger the gods and all that…
Wandering around Marrakesh one can’t help but be (gently) slapped in the face by history at every corner.
First noticed by nomadic desert caravans, and eventually becoming a French protectorate prior to independence, the city has had many owners and influences over the last 1000 years. And given the grand tradition of opulence and excess (so well cultivated by those in power), there are more than a few palaces and otherwise impressive buildings scattered around the medina (old city).
Luckily for heritage enthusiasts the world over, many of these sites remain well-preserved (perhaps in part due to the entire medina and its contents being designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO) and open for tourism.
One of the first rulers to make an impression, Almohad Yacoub el-Mansour was responsible for a fortified kasbah (which of course, we rocked), grand gardens, qissariat (covered markets), rebuilt Koutoubia and Kasbah mosques, and a triumphal gate (Bab Agnaou).
However it was the Saadians and their Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib, who rebuilt the spectacularly preserved Almoravid Ali ben Youssef Mosque and Medersa, established a trading centre for Christians, and a mellah (Jewish quarter) outside the Kasbah in 1558.
His bling-loving successor, Ahmed el-Mansour Eddahbi paved the Badi Palacewith gold (sadly not so well-preserved after his death) and took his jewels to the grave in the lavishly decorated Saadian Tombs.
Sadly following this period Marrakesh fell into disrepair until 1912 when the French Protectorate stepped in, save for the Bahia Palace set up at the end of 19th century by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use.
I need me a palace for MY personal use… just sayin’.
The point is, lots of heritage, some decent preservation (aside from the pillaging and looting a few centuries ago), and certainly a completely different perspective on the concept of heritage planning… which always makes me giggle when I think of “Canadian heritage”.
And of course, more photos for your viewing pleasure.