The restoration and renovation of a Moroccan Riad

Nadia Sadak,  Wednesday, 20 November 2013

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What is a Riad?

The term Riad originates from an Arabic word called “Riad” used as garden. The beautiful Raids and now preserved as pieces of heritage are architecturally interior focused and all the rooms open in the central atrium or court yard. The walls of the Riads are made of mud or brick and tadelkt ( a Moroccan technique where the special lime is compressed with stones and then polished for a special shine) , and mudlack plaster and also engraved with the verses from the holy Quran. They lack windows due to the open space in the central porch which makes them bright as the sunlight directly comes in. The royal Riads also have the intricate flooring, painting details close to fresco and wall decoration. In Morocco Riad’s were built mainly with two concepts one considering the weather in Morocco and second related to the Islamic concept of respect and protection for women known as Hijab. These court yards were also planted with lemon and orange trees along with a fountain.

Restoration of Moroccan Riad

Morocco is culturally and architecturally diverse yet deeply imbibed with its heritage. Therefore along with contemporary living places many architectural designs inspired by Riads can be seen. There is also a strong course for preserving the old Riads built for the governors, kings and the important personnel of Morocco as they are the supreme heritage. Many of them are preserved by some well reputed architectural firms and converted into the Hotels, restaurants, rest houses and museum (showcasing the world the crafts and traditions of morocco).

Restoration steps

The restoration steps may vary based on the condition of the Riad itself and the architect and the firm undertaking the refurbishing processes however the generalized steps are shared taken from the work of famous reconstructions.

  • Ideology (gathering the whole idea and synchronization team and steps)
  • Money
  • Deshabillage (removing all that is not required)
  • Transportation (for new and old materials)
  • Destruction (if required )
  • Patience and vigilance
  • Finding your Riad (getting your end product)
The restoration of the Riad surely depends on the vision of the person behind the work.

Example of some restored Riad’s in Morocco

Riad Rcif: built in 1372 for (governor) pasha was restored by a local entrepreneur Hisham who according to him always dreamt of restoring this Riad and finally under the supervision of best available artisans the monument was restored in 6 years. Riad Rcif with its royal fittings and furnishing was initially planned as museum but now it also offers a stay to the tourist in order to appreciate and relate to the detailed work done on the restoration of this gem and also to enjoy the Moroccan cuisines and culture.

Riad Laaroussa: this one of the top line Riads built in the 17th century was a palace of the former minister Mnebhi. The Riad went through a two years course of restoration and after that a state of the art and comfortable refurbishment in terms of structural design and interior was brought out.

Riad LaLak and Rad Le Petit Palais de Marrakech: went through the renovations in 2011 and 2012. The traditional Moroccan construction methods were incorporated for the restoration of both the riads including the famous tadelakt painting technique, Hand craved plaster, wooden ceilings, zouk the painted wood work,Terra cotta or zelliges tile work, decor crafted by the local artisans and sculpted plaster. These restored riads have windows and wrought iron railings unlike the conventional riads. The kitchens are also the typical Moroccan brick and mortar kitchens with minimal wooden fittings. The wash rooms too reflect the typical old Moroccan lifestyle and preferences.

Eminent Renovators

The Moroccan renovations team: owned by Mouaniss has the best combination af crafts men available in terms of skills, expertise and esthetics. The team’s most notable renovation work includes the Renovation of the famous Riad zany in Fez which they still take care.

Fez real state: relatively new but this company possesses the expertise of restoring the old traditional houses for both personal and business use (guest houses) in a provisional budget with the maximum possible detail.

Marokkanisches Kunsthandwerk: Owned by Omar Bouchqraoui originally from Marrakech living in Basel renovates the Riads and also provides advisory services related to the renovations of the Riads he can be approached through .

Grant Rowling and his Moroccan wife Mariam are into this business of buying and renovating Riads for more than a decade now. They particularly provide services and guidelines for the buyers of the other countries interested in the renovations, restorations and buying of the Moroccan riads.

The travelers Tip

The travelers or visiting Morocco can choose to stay at the famous Riads such as Riad RCIF and Riad Lalak where they will be able to closely experience the Moroccan heritage, culture, cuisine, hospitality, creativity and arts and crafts of the local Moroccan artisans. One such illustration is of Riad Rcif providing the visitors with all the above excitements.
These Riads also take care of the travelling trips and logistics required by the travelers. The special prices and promotional packages are also offered to attract more international visitors to the ethnically enriched Morocco.

Online reviews for the Riads

The online reviews at multiple websites reveal that the Riads have a rating between 4.75 to 5 stars, reflecting the most of them being appreciated for their restoration work, comfort of stay, hospitality and original feel of being into the old era. They are a must to visit for all those planning to visit Morocco this year.


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Search for Moroccan property and real estate for sale. New apartments, houses, old riads. Properties in Marrakech and Tangier. Real estate ads from private sellers and agencies. 
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