The history of a city in its doors

Travelling through Morocco you soon sense that the architecture is a cosmopolitan cultural blend reflecting the country’s long and rich history of rulers and invaders – both Arabic and European – and that the doors in particular are very much a gateway to another world.  In Essaouira, once you are able to take your eyes of the array of blues, there’s some incredible history to discover.  And not all of it is blue.

For centuries Moroccans of Jewish and Muslim decent lived peacefully side by side in cities such as Essaouira, Fes and Marrakech, which is evident in the hallmarks on their doors.  These range from unique patterns and symbols to Jewish stars, some of which are even dated and evoke centuries of history.img_9908conv img_9907conv img_9906conv

But many of these Jewish familes fled the mellahs – the Jewish district in Arab cities – for Israel following the Six Day War.  Some have never returned and many houses like the one in Essaouira pictured below are locked up and have been left to deteriorate.  (Note the Star of David in the plasterwork above the arch, alongside the fading mosaics).

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Other more modern doors bear Moorish style motifs, delicate mosaics and ornate and interesting door knockers.

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Whether they are made of wood or weather-beaten steel, they all add to the charm of Essaouira.

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Then if you can drag yourself away from the doors for a few minutes you will find yourself in the middle of a typical street scene that could be anywhere in Morocco – the inescapable washing and arches and cats and faded reminders of a byegone era.

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Doors across Morocco

Morocco is a photographer’s dream.  There is so much to capture, especially the architecture that reflects Morocco’s rich cultural and historical heritage.  The French, Moorish and Islamic influences are very evident in doors across the country, whether they are heavily embellished horseshoe arches or simple wooden doors with peeling, decades-old paintwork and simplistic latches.

In Ait Benhaddou:

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And in Casablanca:

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In El Khorbat in the Todra valley:

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In Fes:

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From Marrakech:  The first, brightly coloured door is in the Jardin Majorelle, the twelve-acre botanical and artist’s landscape garden, owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé.

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From the hillside hamlet of Moulay Idriss:

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And I haven’t even got to the port city of Essaouira yet 🙂