Gorgeous Moroccan Tadelakt Walls in 11 Buildings

Polishing a tadelakt wall with a river stone
Polishing a tadelakt wall with a river stone | © Eigenheym / Wikimedia Commons
Sarah Williams

Morocco is known for its multitude of beautiful buildings with striking designs. Skilled artisans and master craftspeople added ornate touches to many buildings, with many details remaining for the world to admire today. Restoration works have seen the revival of some practices too. You may already know about the colourful and detailed tilework known as zellige, but are you familiar with tadelakt? Learn more about the practice and find out where you can see fine examples of the plasterwork around the nation.

What is tadelakt?

Tadelakt is a plasterwork technique that originated in the hills near Morocco’s old imperial city of Marrakesh. Created by Berbers to originally seal cisterns used to store drinking water, the addition of colours to the smooth plaster resulted in it being used for decorative purposes in homes around the country. Traditionally, red pigment is added to the paste, although tadelakt can actually be made in almost any colour.

Tadelakt walls

Tadelakt processes are thought to date back at least 4000 years and it is often said to be one of the best plaster techniques in the world. Lime plaster paste is spread on surfaces before being polished with a special river stone, and is then sealed with a natural soap. Although the plasterwork eventually shows fine cracks over time, it retains its waterproof features and beautiful appearance. Surfaces should, however, be re-treated with soap every few years.

Preparing the plaster

Hassan II Mosque

The splendid exteriors of Casablanca’s famous Hassan II Mosque cannot fail to impress visitors. Once inside, the glorious details keep people spellbound. The simple tadelakt walls in the lower area present a terrific contrast to the gleaming floors and the patterned pillars.

Inside the Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Villa Mabrouka

Located in Tangier, the charming Villa Mabrouka was once home to the acclaimed Parisian fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent lived in the property with his partner, Pierre Bergé. Unlike many of their other homes, Villa Mabrouka displays an understated elegance. Rather plain, the designs reflect the peace and tranquility that were enjoyed in the clifftop property. Traditional Moroccan tadalekt covers many of the walls, with fancy paintings and other ornamentation unnecessary against such minimalist beauty.
#villamabrouka #tantalizingtangiers #pierreberge #yvessaintlaurent
A post shared by The Painted Door Design Co. (@painteddoor) on Apr 26, 2016 at 6:53am PDT

So Spa

People being pampered in the delightful So Spa at the Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses in the Moroccan capital city can feast their eyes on the splendid plastered walls that seem to almost sparkle. Regal purples contrast with earthy tones, with the aesthetic appeal enhanced by green walls and fountain tiles, marble benches, and soft lighting.

El Badi Palace

Visit Marrakesh’s once-grand and now-ruined palace to see how tadelakt was used in the past. The plastered edges enclose zellige floors, letting you see two traditional crafts from yesteryear side by side. It’s easy to imagine how grand El Badi Palace must have been in the past.

Old designs in El Badi Palace

Sahara Palace Marrakesh

A fancy hotel on the outskirts of Marrakesh, the Sahara Palace can be found in the Palmeraie neighbourhood. Coloured tadelakt adorns the walls, adding an opulent and rather decadent air. Deep greens, sandy oranges, and bold reds complement the traditional furnishings and textiles. Sip a drink at the magnificent Oyster Bar, with its beautifully plastered walls, grand chandeliers, and elegant curtains.
Hotel Sahara Palace Marrakech Архитектор: Stuart Church Место: Марракеш, Марокко Площадь: 55 Га Настоящий дворец показывает все великолепие мавританской, индийской и венецианской архитектуры, располагаясь среди великолепных ландшафтных садов, в окружении пальм и оливковых рощ. Все номера и люксы завораживают своей красотой и видом на горы Атласа. #StuartChurch #Hotel #SaharaPalaceMarrakech #Marrakech #Project #Architecture #TheDesignTerretory #Design #Interior
A post shared by @ter_design on Mar 22, 2016 at 12:16pm PDT

Saadian Tombs

The Saadian Tombs is a popular historic site in the Red City of Marrakesh, and many visitors may not realise that they are passing through high tadelakt-covered walls as they pass through the site. Reds and oranges cover exterior walls along narrow passages, presenting a beautiful effect in the former royal burial ground.

Saadian Tombs, Marrakech

La Sultana

Great examples of tadalekt can be found in the picture-perfect La Sultana hotel in Marrakesh. Treat yourself to a stay in the Dromadaire Suite and relax in what has been described by Qantas as one of the world’s most amazing bathtubs. The tadelakt walls are dusky pink in colour, with a spectacular, pillar-surrounded, pink marble bathtub taking pride of place in the centre of the room.
Moroccan riad style at La Sultana, Marrakesh.
A post shared by Jonathan Little (@jonathanlittlephotography) on Aug 5, 2017 at 2:48am PDT

Selman Marrakech

With the home of tadelakt not far from the Red City, it perhaps isn’t surprising to find that many of Marrakesh’s fine buildings boast exquisite plasterwork on their walls. The high-class Selman Marrakech is no exception. Luxurious touches are melded with traditional designs and techniques. Gorgeous Arabian features include attractive tadelakt walls, as well as zellige and carved plaster.

Riad Dar Haven

The accommodation of Riad Dar Haven can be found in the small Berber fishing village of Tamraght, close to the popular beach resort of Agadir, and the area is known for its great surfing. After a day on the waves, the superbly designed rooms of the traditional riad are ideal for some rest and relaxation. Smooth plaster covers the walls and some rooms even come with an enticing tadelakt-covered bath tub.
Merzouga suite got it’s name from the colour of the Tadelakt in the bathroom… it’s vibrant apricot to match the colour of the magnificent Erg Chebbi sand dunes of Merzouga…. 750km from #riaddarhaven #tamraght #agadir #itsthejourney #roadtrip #morocco #tadelakt #marrakech #merzouga #sahara
A post shared by Riad Dar Haven (@riad_darhaven) on Oct 22, 2017 at 12:35pm PDT

Kasbah Titrit

Kasbah Titrit is a glorious accommodation in Ouarzazate. Close to the spectacular ksar and movie-makers’ darling of Aït Benhaddou, Kasbah Titrit combines traditional Moroccan designs and modern comforts. The various coloured tadelakt walls in the bedrooms, common areas, and spa are a pleasure to behold.
Oh, do we have to leave? Our lovely room at Kabah Titrit. #lovesmorocco #loves_morocco #in_morocco #igersmorocco #instamorocco #travelgram #kasbahtitrit #kasbah #tamdaght #tamdakht #ounila #ounilavalley #dowehavetoleave #dowehavetogohome #aitbenhaddou #ouarzazate #ouarezazat #morocco #maroc
A post shared by Martin Dady (@martinmorocco) on May 12, 2016 at 12:50pm PDT

Le Jardin des Douars

Visitors to Essaouira can admire the simple yet striking earthy-pink coloured tadelakt of Le Jardin des Douars without needing to set foot inside the property; the exterior walls are coated in the decorative and waterproof plaster. Looking rather like a small castle from times gone by, the property is certainly photogenic.
Driving inland from wind-battered Essaouira, past laden donkeys and fields of argan trees, Le Jardin des Douars appears like a sandcastle on the horizon. Pass through the gates, and you’re greeted with an explosion of colour! 💥
A post shared by i-escape (@iescapehotels) on May 5, 2017 at 8:59am PDT

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