The Zawiyyas of Morocco

Morocco is a country that is filled with beautiful landscapes and breathtaking historical buildings. Some are symbols of religion, some are reminders to struggles of the past, and others, such as the zawiyyas of Morocco, are memorials to great people who once roamed the town or city and made a significant impact on the community. Zawiyyas can therefore be described as a type of shrine to men and woman who made vital contributions to the community, including healers, warriors and leaders. Non-Muslims are not allowed entry into the zawiyyas of Morocco, but the buildings are breathtaking sights.

Morocco has many zawiyyas scattered over it is vast land, including Sidi Ali, Lalla Miriam, Moulay Bouchta, Moulay Idriss, Moulay Abdullah Bin Hussein, Moulay Yacoub and many more. Some towns or cities have more than one zawiyya, such as Marrakech that has two. Maghrib is home to the oldest zawiyyas that can be found in Morocco, and some times these sights are confused with a Ribat. Even though both a ribat and a zawiyya have their origins in the thirteenth century and they are both constructed with a minaret, it is their functions that set them apart. Zawiyyas can be seen as a form of shelter, as wanderers and homeless people often seek food and a place to sleep at these structures. They are often involved in feeding programs to assist the poor and struggling families. A ribat, on the other hand, is more associated with schooling, military and cultural aspects of its surrounding area.

In some cases, the zawiyyas have been transformed into mosques, making access to these unique buildings a little easier. And in a few rare cases, visitors will find that the zawiyyas have not been built around the tomb or home of a legendary figure. As mentioned, these are extremely rare cases as individual zawiyyas are based on the life and deeds of the figure in the tomb. These sites have also become places of pilgrimage, where believers can find tranquility and peace within the walls of a zawiyya.

Their white chalked walls and similarities in architecture make zawiyyas easily recognizable. As an attraction in Morocco, these buildings draw a lot of attention through the mystery and inaccessibility of the sights. Visitors to this diverse country of culture and color will find the zawiyyas to be historically significant and a rare opportunity to view an attraction in Morocco with so much communal purpose and memorable value.