Many cities of any size in Morocco have a Medina ‘quarter’; these are distinct city sections which are often the oldest part of the city, walled, with maze like streets and relatively car free. Many cultural, historical and architecturally interesting features can be found in medinas.
A stimulating and visually interesting aspect of walking Moroccan medinas is viewing the colours and street art used to decorate the many alleys and lanes. More than just brightening up inner city thoroughfares it has been suggested that colours are used intentionally as tourist and cultural branding exercises, and that cities are recognised often internationally due to their colours. Examples of this are Chefchaouen, world famous for its blue walls, and Marrakesh, well known for its red colour. Other reasons and explanations for the adoption of colour schemes include reflecting local natural colours, influences from local or national religious associations, regional cultural influences and influence of colour from sub-saharan African contexts.
The combination of the colour schemes and fading, ancient urban landscapes often result in visually dynamic, stimulating and aesthetically rewarding vistas.
Regarding the historical role of medinas, Mohammed and the first converters to Islam settled in Yathrib, later renamed Medina, in 622AD following his migration from Mecca. They moved there to build up the first Islamic sovereign state and the first Islamic city.
Whilst there Mohammed established the Constitution of Medina, a set of rules developing and formalising the common ground between the muslims of Mecca and the muslims of Medina.These conditions across the Islamic world led to the development of ‘common ground’ into ’ummah’ ( the community of faithful ), which became a divine commandment and a definite mission assigned by God. Expression of faith in the Islamic ideology and these political manifestations marked the believer from non-Muslims. To not believe was to be denied access to the ‘sacred spaces’ ( ie cities ) being constructed.
Etymologically the term Medina is derived from an Akkadian root dinu or denu. Both stand for law, right and judgment.
This is a series of photographic studies of the use of colours and street art in the alleys from the medinas of a number of Moroccan cities. One image depicting each city is shown here and a link provided to a full gallery of images from that city. This is an ongoing project.
The Gallery for the Medina of Tangier is here.
The Gallery for the Medina of Tetouan is here
The Gallery for the Medina of Fes is here
The Gallery for the Medina of Meknes is here.
Moulay Idriss Zerhouna
The Gallery for the Medina of Moulay Idress Zerhouna is here