Did you know ? Difference between Riyadh and Dar, do you choose between the two?

Magic, Riad Simsim has become the word for anyone who dreams of staying 1001 nights in the cities of Morocco. But do you know how to distinguish between a riad and a dar, another increasingly used name? We explain!

Anne Claire Delorme


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La Sultana Marrakech alone represents a page in the history of Medina. La Sultana Marrakech / Photo press

In Morocco, any riad is a home, but the opposite is not true! To understand the intricacies of these designations for those who did not grow up in the heart of cities, you need to dive into the millennial history of the Arab-Andalusian house, long before it became a vogue and was transformed into a charming residence.

Hide any outward signs of wealth

Dar simply means home in Arabic. In ancient cities, it is not limited to any type of house: traditionally, the house is built according to a square or rectangular plan around a courtyard open to the sky (West Ed House). A precious well of light for the house: the outer walls are blind, and the openings of the rooms—windows or doors—look into the inner courtyard. This design has other advantages: protecting the family, especially women, from view and hiding any outward sign of wealth. Not forgetting what remains constant protects passengers from outside inconveniences, noise, heat, dust and crush. in The Kingdom of MoroccoAnyone who has opened the door of an old dwelling in a city knows the strange sense of peace that visitors feel as soon as they cross the threshold. ” Mosaic and stucco walls sing the glory of a victorious God; a delicate incense, distilled by the heat in the shade, evaporated from the cedar-wood ceilings; And the rolling of the water in the fountain, as continuous as the time itself, sounds like the clocks transmitted through eternity. Jan Galeotti writes in Arab Garden and House in Morocco which remains one of the reference works more than a century after its publication.

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The exact model of Riyadh

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Restored by its owner, Belgian architect Quentin Wilbeaux, author of a treatise on the Medina of Marrakesh, this 17th-century residence is the archetype of a true riad with its large garden divided into four flowerbeds around a pond and galleries with arches. Riyad Barbir / Photo press

But what then about Riyadh? On the contrary, the word Riyad (from tamed, meaning beautiful garden) refers exclusively to the garden concept but ends up allocating the residence with an indoor enclosed garden. So a true riad must have a courtyard of sufficient size to be cultivated, according to a precise model: two paths intersecting at right angles, draw four flower beds of equal size around a fountain or basin. Even today in the courtyards of Riyadh one does not always find these “four squares of Mudéjar nature,” in the words of architect Quentin Wilbo (Marrakech, the secret of the gardens of the houses, ed. RCA). And sometimes signs confuse tracks with names that have nothing to do with the order of venues, even on Marrakesh Where this hybrid garden house model has thrived is, Axe Rather, it is a city of al-dior (plural of dar) with richly decorated courtyards.

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