mycursedface: (good little Muslim)
The new house was indeed a proper riad, situated at the end of an alley in one of the oldest parts of the Medina. You entered a carved wooden door, ascended some of the stairs in a corridor, and arrived in a lovely courtyard of about a hundred square metres, complete with a orange and a lemon tree and an attractive fountain in the centre. At one end of the courtyard was the kitchen, at the other a large salon, and on the right-hand side were doorways leading to two separate bathrooms and to a staircase to the floor above.

On the fourth side of the courtyard was a large and unusual feature wall, the central five metres of which was recessed by a metre. A buttress descended on the left-hand side of this recess, ending in a scallop shape, in the middle of which was a small spy window. We later discovered it had unique acoustic properties, allowing anyone siting behind it to hear even the slightest whisper in the courtyard.

Two tiled columns stood in front of the downstairs salon, which had a set of massive decorated cedar doors. To either side of the doors were tall windows, framed with exquisite, hand-carved plaster. On the floor above this salon was another room of similar proportions, with its own set of beautiful doors.

Above the kitchen were two rooms large enough to be a self-contained massreiya apartment with its own entrance. The tops of these walls had a band of intricately carved plasterwork insert with rare and expensive coloured glass, known locally as Iraqi glass. And the first of these rooms contained the architectural treasure of the house – a huge ceiling with a spectacular radial design of carved and painted cedar.

Suzanna Clarke, A House in Fez, pp: 27-28

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March 2010

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