Marrakech - Much is written in travel guides and the sections of leading international newspapers about the wonders of Marrakech’s historic sites and buildings.
Marrakech – Much is written in travel guides and the sections of leading international newspapers about the wonders of Marrakech’s historic sites and buildings.
According to an article by Badra Berrissoule in l’Economiste on 31August 2012, there were more than 179 historical mosques and mausoleums and many of these are still in a serious state of disrepair. The annual rains bring further deterioration. Since the article in l’Economiste was written, an enormous program of restoration for ancient mosques has taken place all over Morocco due to safety issues, following the collapse of a mosque in Meknes. But in Marrakech, many historic sites remain out of sight and neglected such as the tomb of Youssef Ibn Tachfine and the tombs of the Seven Saints [sabaato Rijal].
The article in l’Economiste quotes Jaffar Kansoussi, a former regional delegate for the Ministry of Endowments and president of the Al Munya Association, as pointing to a division of responsibilities in respect of restoration of Marrkech’s mosques and zaouias, which are the responsibility of the Ministry of Endowments. The city council is responsible for historic amenities and ramparts. Palaces and riads come under the Ministry of Culture. Mr Kansoussi suggested that there was a lack of coordination regarding restoration and preservation of Marrakech’s architectural heritage.
Construction of new buildings including new museums and widening of roadways is taking place all over Marrakech, but the highly specialized work of the restoration of historic buildings which are part of Marrakech’s heritage in the medina requires special expertise. In the face of a global recession which has not yet ended, it is understandable if priorities have to be selected.
Any initiative to help the restoration of ancient buildings by private enterprise must therefore be welcome at a time when budgets are tight. Patrick Manac’h and Hamid Mergani whose Maison de la Photographie, with its 5,000 historic photographs and glass prints has revolutionized the awareness of Morocco’s unique historical past, has come up with a solution that they believe could be put to good use in helping to restore and preserve Marrakech’s historic architectural heritage. They have recently restored a 17th century Douiria reception apartment next to the Mouassine mosque to its original glory during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail. This has been achieved with the efforts of a dedicated team of Moroccan craftsmen and expert guidance by Xavier Salmon of the Louvre museum.
Patrick Manac’h reasons that restoration work which covers roofs that have fallen in and preventing rain damage or cleaning and essential restoration work could be achieved with relatively small budgets. He is proposing to approach the relevant authorities for support to carry out a selected number of restoration micro projects each year. He stresses that his motives are not commercial other than preserving Marrakech’s historic heritage buildings and providing work for skilled craftsmen. He observes that, “if you create an oasis it will give energy to the trading caravan.”
Each successful project will light the way to others and each success will encourage further restoration efforts. He is already awaiting the go ahead for a major project. He feels that this will have a positive effect on heritage restoration in Marrakech and enrich its cultural patrimony. It will also help to encourage the protection of historic properties from vandalism and desecration and encourage civic pride in the Medina’s heritage. He proposes to create a booklet for each project and an online introduction. This will, he feels, have a positive effect on restoration in the medina generally, and will also make further restoration work easier to achieve. It may also offer a way for select cultural groups to see more of Marrakech’s glorious Islamic architectural heritage through specific projects, whilst carefully avoiding offending religious sensitivities.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed