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Moroccan Garden Tours

As is common throughout the Islamic world, the garden is of enormous importance to Moroccan culture. An earthly reflection of the paradise described in the Quran, the garden as a space of quiet reflection and restfulness has long been the central idea in the approach to its design. It was the Moors, who ruled over a vast empire stretching across northern Africa to southern Spain and Portugal from the 8th to the 15th centuries, that firmly established the garden culture of Morocco. Ingenious design elements were included to both practical and spiritual purpose, for example, the division of a courtyard into quadrants, each with a formal water channel, or rill, flowing into a central pool. Symbolically, these watercourses represented the four rivers of paradise – water, milk, wine and honey – but practically, as the water evaporated under the hot Moroccan sun, they helped to create a cooler microclimate within the garden space. One of the greatest joys of the Moroccan garden is the way in which it is often hidden from public view; the term ‘riad’, which literally means garden, refers specifically to a traditional Moroccan home with an interior courtyard or garden. To enter through an unassuming door on a noisy, narrow and dusty street and find yourself transported to an oasis of fragrant tranquillity and dazzling beauty is a Moroccan magic trick that never fails to delight. The French colonisation of Morocco in the first half of the 20th century brought with it a stream of glamorous Western visitors and a new wave of garden enthusiasts, such as the artist Jacques Majorelle. Fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent’s rediscovery and restoration of Majorelle’s garden and villa in the 1980s has encouraged a new wave of modern garden design, combining the principles of the Moorish garden with a renewed sense of vibrancy, marking Morocco as an essential destination for both historical and contemporary garden enthusiasts alike.

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