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What is a Moroccan Riad?

May 22, 2012


A riad (Arabic: رياض‎) is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”.

The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy for women. Because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space, this layout also supports community within the family.  In the central garden of traditional riads there is often a fountain, which naturally circulates and cools off the air, functioning as a natural air-conditioner.

The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house in cities such as Tangier as riads have been restored to their former glory. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants.

source: wikipedia


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96 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2012 11:55 am

    Really nice, can’t wait to get back there.

  2. Suzy permalink
    May 22, 2012 2:13 pm

    We stayed in a lovely Riad for our honeymoon. Beautiful roof terrace (perfect for lounging around in February sunshine) and wonderful tiles everywhere.

  3. May 22, 2012 8:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It is a bit like being there with a friend, who takes you along and explains everything. Please keep going. One day I will come…so beautiful.

    • May 22, 2012 9:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment. And seriously, if you ever visit Tangier and need a friend to show you around, I’m your guy. I really think Tangier is a huge overlooked secret, but won’t be for long. I give it 10 years before it’s a major tourist destination.

      • May 23, 2012 7:49 am

        Thank you so much. I think with the cheap flights it is only a matter of time until people start to discover Africa. It is definitely on my list.

  4. May 23, 2012 1:08 am

    Beautiful! I want to stay there.

  5. May 23, 2012 7:44 am

    So beautiful… thank you for sharing.

  6. May 23, 2012 1:45 pm

    Wow- there really are some amazing places in the world and these photographs are beautiful. I would love to stay in a Riad- had never even heard the term until I read this. :)


    • May 23, 2012 1:51 pm

      Yeah, I hadn’t heard of them either. We’re hoping to buy one here in Tangier and renovated it to be a hotel. They make a great 10-15 room hotel.

  7. May 24, 2012 3:17 am

    i will add this up on my bucket list. Awesome place! :)

  8. May 24, 2012 8:41 am

    I compare this style house, which sounds closed off from the outside, to the style of house I see in suburbs in Australia which are physically more open but which result in very little interaction with the community. Designing a house around the notion of family community is something that seems to wax and wane in the western world.

    • May 24, 2012 10:22 pm

      Yes, I think you’re onto something there. It’s been interesting for me to compare the Moroccan culture with my western culture, and some days I think they are more family oriented and other days not. I don’t think house design has the power to change a culture; for good or bad. I think the riads are beautiful here, though. I wish I could design my family with that sort of craftsmanship!

  9. May 26, 2012 7:00 am

    Reminds me of a museum we visited during the “safari” tour in Tunisia. It had been converted from an old house and I think they have quite a similar build style.

    Morocco is definitely on our bucket list and we would love to go back to Tunisia one day too.

    We can get to Tunisia via Malta or Cairo from Cyprus on Egyptair so it wouldn’t surprise me if there isn’t a flight from one of those places to Morocco too….

    Now that’s got me thinking :-)

    • May 26, 2012 9:14 pm

      I’ve visited Tunisia and Egypt a bit and there seems to be a lot of similarities in the cultures. I know I visited a riad in Tunisia, but I’m not certain they have them in Egypt – I’d assume so. They’re beautiful buildings. I’ve never been to Cyprus and don’t even know if it’s arab culture… maybe I’ll get to visit one day.

      • May 27, 2012 7:57 am

        We’ve never seen a riad in Egypt but that could just be because we haven’t really been to any private houses. We go to see the historical tombs and temples as a rule or a cruise along the River Nile. I would be pretty sure there are riads if you know where to look…

        We are in the Republic of Cyprus which is the southern part of the island and it doesn’t have a very Arab influence although there is some due to its’ close proximity to the Middle East.

        However, Cyprus is still a divided country and has been since 1974 after the Turkish invasion of the north of the island. So if you cross through the UN green line into the occupied areas you will see quite a different culture, which is far more Arabic.

        Coffee is the “norm” for hot beverages in the south of the island whereas in the north – its’ tea. That’s tea served without milk of course, something I quite enjoy from time to time.

        We shall be going through the Nicosia crossing in a couple of weeks at Ledra street but it will only be for a few hours and we will stay in the city of Nicosia.

        If you go further into the north and go to the coastal resorts in Kyrenia you can expect to see more of the differences between the two cultures.

  10. May 26, 2012 7:06 am

    Reblogged this on Cyprus Life – in pictures and commented:
    Well, Morocco has been on our “bucket list” for quite a long time and after seeing some of the photographs on the here, it’s turned my thoughts right back to paying a visit at sometime in the future.

    I know we can get to Tunisia via Malta or Cairo from Cyprus as Egyptair offer the route so I wonder if they also fly into Morocco.

    A bit of food for thought for me and maybe a spot of research over the weekend.

    Not right now though. I have to take the car into the mechanics as I hit a problem on the way home from work yesterday.

  11. May 28, 2012 10:04 pm

    We’ve arranged a stay at a hotel in Marseilles, France called Le Ryad (moroccan themed) and this post just brought it full circle! I get it now :)

  12. May 29, 2012 11:58 am

    I’ve just returned from Morocco and had a fabulous time. We stayed in a riad in Marrakech which was awesome as it was a great space to keep cool and escape the noise of the Djemaa El Fna. They’re perfectly designed. Thanks also for the like on my blogpost. :)

  13. May 30, 2012 4:44 pm

    Gorgeous photos. Makes me want to go back, just to stay in such a beautiful hotel. ;)

  14. May 31, 2012 9:21 pm

    So beautiful architectural places to visit…!

  15. June 3, 2012 2:51 pm

    Congratulations! I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

    For the award rules, see

    If you have already received this award, then you surely deserve another one.

  16. June 17, 2012 4:26 am

    Thank you for visiting my blog and liking it.

  17. September 3, 2012 3:40 am

    Thanks for the like over on my blog. These are some gorgeous photos. I lived in Morocco for 9 months, but never in such a gorgeous spot.

    • September 3, 2012 12:44 pm

      Yes, Morocco is beautiful. We’ve been here for two years, and we’ve decided to stay!

  18. September 3, 2012 4:19 am

    hello (i maked a mistake in the first comment thats why i repeated it)
    thank you for visiting our tour company website
    i liked your website also , if you like to be partners e will have any problem , links exchange will be great too .
    best regards
    Sud Aventures Tours

    • September 3, 2012 12:45 pm

      I haven’t had a chance to visit to Agadir, but I’d like to in the future

  19. September 3, 2012 6:37 am

    Thanks for your recent like on my Florence post. I love this one. I haven’t been to Morocco and now reading your blog I’m intrigued…

    • September 3, 2012 12:46 pm

      There are some beautiful places here. We live just across the water from Spain, so the travel is really doable. Let me know if I can help you make a visit in the future.

  20. September 3, 2012 10:15 am

    i am missing morocco now just by looking at all the pictures on your site.

    • September 3, 2012 12:47 pm

      Morocco is changing so fast. If you get a chance to return, you’ll be pleasantly surprised I think.

      • September 3, 2012 3:49 pm

        i went there june this year and i am planning to go back this february. i hope there wont be a LOT of changes. :)

      • September 3, 2012 8:29 pm

        We just got back from a summer break and there is much progress on the new port, the new mall, and the downtown revitalization. Only good changes :)

  21. September 3, 2012 12:34 pm

    I’m sitting in a large auditorium blogging. Your photos have taken me on a magic carpet ride into a wonderful world. Tx. for the photo.

  22. September 3, 2012 1:11 pm

    These Riads look so cool, relaxing and inviting. But I think they could be claustrophobic a bit too, because you cannot see outside!

    • September 3, 2012 1:13 pm

      Most of them have roof top terraces with great views of the rest of the world :)

  23. September 3, 2012 3:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Roots, Land and People..

  24. September 3, 2012 10:07 pm

    What an amazing description and pictures you have displayed for these types of homes. I never heard of a Riad type of home until reading your blog. Thank you!

    Also, thank you for stopping by Still Times and enabling me to connect to your blog.


  25. September 3, 2012 11:45 pm

    Our house in Jamaica had this but we called it an indoor courtyard. And we used it for family and for parties because it is much cooler than inside the house. Thanks for liking my post earlier on.

  26. September 4, 2012 2:49 am

    I love the photography on your blog and I also really like your informative writing style! Thank you for visiting my blog recently as well!

  27. September 4, 2012 12:01 pm

    Thanks for bringing back my memories of Morocco – my wife and I actually stayed in the riad in the second picture and it was absolutely beautiful! I actually JUST published a post on my blog about our 10 day trip to Morocco, with route and accommodation recommendations if anyone’s interested in visiting:

    • September 4, 2012 12:03 pm

      Oops, I meant we stayed in the riad in the third picture.

      • September 4, 2012 8:52 pm

        That looks like a great trip Jiksun. Maybe next time you can swing by Tangier and check out some of the Moroccan beaches.

      • September 5, 2012 6:55 am

        Will definitely do that – have yet to visit the Moroccan coastline! How’s the drive from Tangier to Essaouira (or beyond?)

      • September 11, 2012 8:43 am

        I just google mapped it, and it looks like about 7 hours from Tangier to Essaouira if you have a car. I’ve only been as far south as Casablanca, but the autoroute is a really nice road and has some good stretches where you drive right along the beach.

      • September 11, 2012 9:27 am

        Another reader on my blog was asking about alternatives routes for someone with vertigo (the route I suggested in my post goes through the High Atlas, as well as camel trekking which might trigger the vertigo) – maybe a drive along the coast up to Tangier or down to Essaouira could be an option! I’m sure there’s tonnes to see too.

      • September 13, 2012 5:35 pm

        Yes, the autoroute is a nice straight highway without mountains. If someone has vertigo, I’d recommend staying near the coast :)

      • September 14, 2012 8:55 am

        Thanks @mrbradjones!

  28. September 9, 2012 1:25 pm

    Huh! Beautiful!

    And good info~ I didn’t know about riads. :)

  29. September 10, 2012 12:48 pm

    It’s the kind of home I dream of….if only!

    • September 11, 2012 8:49 am

      There’s a book called “A House in Fez” that details this Australian couple moving to Morocco and renovating a traditional riad to become their new home. It’s a great read with good details into Moroccan culture, if you’re interested.

  30. September 10, 2012 12:48 pm

    Almost forgot… please notify me of new posts via email. Tx.

  31. September 13, 2012 12:20 am

    wow this is really amazing. there is still so much to see for me on this beautiful planet!

  32. September 13, 2012 6:31 am

    Dar Ahl Tadla in Fes is the greatest riad! I highly recommend it.

  33. September 22, 2012 7:38 pm

    Wow, that’s beautiful. I learned something new too as a bonus. ;)

  34. September 23, 2012 9:34 pm

    Beautiful pics. I want to live in a place like that. Thanks for the like too.

  35. Alz355 permalink
    September 28, 2012 12:03 pm

    We were in Morocco 5 years ago…Essaouira and Marrakesh. Would love to come back and check out Tangier someday! Thanks for the great info!

  36. Adila permalink
    September 29, 2012 4:11 pm

    That is so beautiful!

  37. September 29, 2012 8:28 pm

    They are very beautiful. I’ve seen some houses like these in Andalucia on television. Hundreds of years ago most of Spain and Morocco were in the same empire.

  38. October 1, 2012 1:54 pm

    Reblogged this on dreamingoftrips.

  39. October 7, 2012 11:50 pm

    Beautiful photos! I would love to have a home with an interior garden and fountain. I wish this design was more wide spread in the US.

  40. October 8, 2012 4:10 am

    So, beautiful, especially the last picture!!!

  41. October 8, 2012 5:14 am

    Love this blog — I always wanted to travel to Morocco and one of these days I will! I love this style of home, it would be great to have a house with a riad, but maybe with skylights for the winter where I live — too cold to be open to the weather!

  42. October 8, 2012 11:02 am

    Wow! Goegeous and stunning photos!
    Did you know the ancient Roman houses were exactly the same as this? All the houses at Pompeii have exactly the same layout.

    • October 8, 2012 11:04 am

      I’ve heard that the inner courtyard is common across the Mediterranean. And supposedly the arches in Morocco originated in Roman architecture. I’d love to check it out in Pompeii!

  43. Jane permalink
    October 8, 2012 11:45 am

    What stunning images! Thank you :-)

  44. October 8, 2012 2:40 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! Not only for the beautiful images but for explaining to me what I saw when I visited Morocco. Now I understand.

  45. October 8, 2012 7:16 pm

    Hi Brad, thank you for liking my latest post. I have started following your blog. Looks like a lot of great photos. Would appreciate the followback on my blog! Let’s connect!

  46. October 11, 2012 8:46 am

    Thank you forliking my blog “The Journey”. These photos of yours are quite beautiful.

  47. October 12, 2012 6:57 am

    Very cool subject matter. It just kicks up my yearning to visit Morocco one day soon! Somehow in the years of living in the Middle East I haven’t made it to North Africa except for a short trip to Egypt. Now I live halfway round the world and those locations are faraway, exotic lands again!

  48. October 14, 2012 5:15 pm

    Wonderful insights here, as a lot of similarity can be seen in Emirati homes here too. The open central courtyard is also a feature in old houses in India and can be seen in some of the havelis in the north that have been converted into hotels.

  49. October 18, 2012 8:25 pm

    So fabulous! If I ever make it to Morocco, it’ll be a riad for sure.

  50. October 19, 2012 9:10 pm

    They look so beautiful x I hope I get to see one sometime x Thanks for reading my blog x

  51. October 20, 2012 4:51 pm

    I so miss Morocco. Nice piece!

  52. October 21, 2012 1:07 pm

    Such a cool location….wish I was there!

  53. October 21, 2012 10:51 pm


  54. October 21, 2012 11:19 pm

    Very beautiful. I hope I can include it in my travels some day.

  55. eneferri permalink
    October 22, 2012 3:44 am

    Interesting – the respect for women’s privacy strikes a chord with me. I have a blog which relates some of the quirks and (non) perks of being married to an architect – one of which is the phenomenon of living in a light-box (modernist dwelling) with very little privacy to speak of. One friend jokes that the only place she can find to dress in privacy – in the family’s glass and steel modernist home – is behind the cupboard door.
    I have fond memories of staying with family and friends in some beautiful Riads in Maroque – in Fez, Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira. In Morocco they seem to value home and homeownership as much as we do in Australia. As it has on the Moroccan travel website:”The first thing one should own is a home; and it is the last thing one should sell; for a home is ones tomb this side of heaven” (Moroccan proverb)
    I’m interested in an unusual architectural phenomenon called Spite architecture and would appreciate it if you could let me know of any examples from Morocco.

    • October 22, 2012 4:20 pm

      I haven’t heard or seen any spite building here in Morocco, but as I was searching online for it, I found this guy planted a big tree to cover up a building at Harvard University. There was quite a clash.

      “Vellucci later clashed with the Harvard Lampoon due to a tree that he planted on city land in front of the building in 1961 in order to block the view of the building.[7] He wished to obscure the face of the building because he found it ugly and to avenge local Italian Americans, whom he believed the Lampoon had insulted by claiming that an Irishman (rather than the Italian Christopher Columbus) discovered America”

      More about it at…

  56. annestee permalink
    October 22, 2012 5:59 am

    Thank you for this interesting blog

  57. mediamugshot permalink
    October 22, 2012 4:31 pm

    Nice pictures!

  58. Editor permalink
    October 25, 2012 6:38 am

    stunning photographs… fingers crossed we’ll get to Morocco one day too…

  59. November 1, 2012 1:10 am

    A great way to live for that climate. So different to Australia. Which adds to the fascination.

  60. November 5, 2012 3:46 am

    on my bucket list and just added a pin on Pinterest! cheers!

  61. November 5, 2012 4:07 am

    I love it, In Madrid is to cold now. I’ll like to entry en your photo and stay there the rest of the winter. Is beautiful.

  62. November 6, 2012 3:11 pm

    Beautiful!!!!!!!! Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  63. November 15, 2012 10:11 pm

    Lovely! Morocco has always been on my travel wish list, even more now!

  64. November 21, 2012 6:14 pm

    Awesome pictures!

  65. November 23, 2012 4:42 pm

    My favorite destination is Morocco! Love it.

  66. November 23, 2012 5:37 pm


  67. November 24, 2012 1:25 am

    nice! and thanks for the visit.

  68. runawaylines permalink
    January 22, 2013 5:21 pm

    I think your blog is really fantastical & beautiful! So I’ve nominated it for The Versatile Blogger Award. To find out about the award and the rules head to I love the photos you post too & the adventures you share!

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