Renovated Riad of Marrakech
The riad “Secret Garden” used to be the habitation of the wealthiest citizen of Marrakech at the time of the Muslim empire; however, the identity of the owner is unknown. The house was abandoned on the way to our days and endured massive degradation due to a lack of maintenance. The renovation started at the beginning of the century and was open to the public not so long ago. The work included the restoration of the original piping system for the future visits interest. The place is exceptionally instructive because we have an overview of the living style of wealthy men at the time of the Muslim empire.
The riad in itself follows a simple structure. It’s made of four walls surrounding the garden which is in the center of the place. The two habitations buildings are at both extremities of the area. They are following the classical structure of the city with a low ceiling and windows. The first building also includes a tower. Despite being a sign of the importance of its owner, its exact purpose remains unknown. On the side of the Riad there used to be the quarters of the staff. Unfortunately, none of it made it to our days. Finally, the fascinating part of the area remains the central garden. It is divided into four sections by two central alleys. The garden is maintained by an ingenious system of pipes that still follows the old model. It will be discussed later.
The garden was a common thing among the wealthiest “Marrakchi.” It was providing some fresh air in this warm country. Those yards could also be training grounds for soldiers or agricultural areas. But this wasn’t the case of this one. This Islamic garden was a place to rest far away from the troubles and heat of the streets. The garden is divided into four sections, and within its centre, there is a fountain. A small canal connects the basin to a pool. This touch of decoration is charming but watch your step as the channel is the size of an average foot!
Piping and irrigation
Through the garden, you can see different cards that are short explanations of the main features of the Muslim piping system:
0- This is the base of the system. Because it is where the water arrived at the riad from the Atlas Mountains. The water is running through a channel using underground tunnels.
1a- The water received in part 0 of the piping system is arriving from under the structure by a pipe and through a dam. It is then dividing into three sections. The first pipe is going to the fountain of the Cuvee in a secondary garden. The second brings the water to the irrigation canal at the edge of the garden. Finally, the third pipe is heading to the Cuvee that received the water from the first pipe but going through a fountain.
1b- The next section contains four distinct pipes. The one at the top right is where the water arrives to be redistributed between the three others. The second pipe at the bottom right is leading the water to the basin right beside it. The third pipe at the bottom left is providing water to the irrigation system. Finally, the fourth pipe at the top left is supplying the kitchen with water.
2a- The basin at the entrance of the garden is the oldest part of the riad. Being a hundred and fifty years old. It is distributing the water received from 1a to the first part of the garden.
2b- The water supplying the basin is arriving from two different sources. The first one is the water coming from the 1b. The second one is collecting water from the rain. The purpose of the basin is mainly to provide water to the central fountain.
3b- The fountain of the first section of the garden for two purposes. The first one is to distribute the water to the plants around and the second one is decorative.
As you can now understand, this system is complex but very efficient and eco-friendly!
I believe that this riad is delightful to visit. I loved the time in there because it gave us an overview of the lifestyle of the rich people at the time of the Muslim empire. Here we can see that they possessed an advanced irrigation and piping system compared to what we had in Europe or North America. We can also admire the Moroccan talent in renovation as from the beginning because this place was in a poor state. Now it contains the most beautiful ceramics and amazing gardens!
If you want to read about more historical places:
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