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Riads in Marrakech - Still the Place to Go!
Despite the recent happenings and political troubles in neighboring countries, the tourism in Morocco is still going strong. People regard Morocco generally still as a safe place to go. The political climate has settled in the past years and tourists are a more than welcome and common sight in the buzzing Medinas.
Marrakech and its Riads have always been a good bet for some very relaxing days, the long forgotten vision of a colorful, exotic and fascinating orient still can be found in most of the old quarters of cities in Morocco. So what is this riad thing people keep on talking about and what is so special?
In all medinas (old towns) of Morocco you can find Riads, the so-called inner courtyards houses: For example Marrakech, Essaouira, Fes, El Jadida, Meknes, Ouarzazate, Rabat, Tangier with their ancient medinas accommodate these treasures of Moroccan architecture: the riads (also: Riyad, Ryad or Riyad).
If you stroll through the streets of a Medina, you can hardly imagine how magnificent these townhouses look behind its thick walls and inconspicuous doors from the inside.
When you first step into a Foyer behind one of those thick wooden doors you can not imagine the luxury you will experience.
A real Riad is built around a landscaped courtyard. The courtyards were used among other things as gardens or retreats from the sun. This patio, often with a fountain, is the heart of such a town house. All rooms are facing the patio. Rarely there are windows into the street. Mostly these are, then, quite small and give little opportunity to observe life in the streets.
A Riad usually has 2 - 3 levels. The meter thick walls that are conserving heat from the day and the cool of the day in order to keep a steady climate within the walls. The terraces on the roofs were once reserved for women. Here they had their "freedom", it was sort of the communication window to the world - over the roofs of the neighbors.
Today, the most beautifully decorated terraces are grassed and invite you to sunbathe or to a beautiful panoramic view over the rooftops of the medina.
Until 20 years ago hardly anyone was interested in riads. At present, the riads are very fashionable and a perfect place to spend a couple of days far off the usual western life.
Any travel agency will be able to provide you with the right accommodation, but it is recommended to book online. The prices are cheaper and the variety bigger.
By Daniel Kowalsky
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