The architecture of Marrakech is dominated by riads. Riad, meaning "a garden" in Arabic, is a traditional home inside a city's medina. These courtyard mansions are usually located near palaces in Morocco's main cities, and they used to belong to families of royal relatives and rich merchants. According to the tradition, riads have no windows to the street outside, but all windows open inward to the central arcaded courtyard which usually has a fountain or a pool and a garden with songbirds twittering within the branches of orange, tangerine and lemon trees. From the outside, looking at the austere, thick mudbrick walls, you'd never guess the splendor that is found inside.
The brass studded heavy doors open to lovely spaces filled with original Moroccan antiques, painted cedar ceilings, ironwork balconies and elaborate carved details. With only a few bedrooms, but several salons, riads are oases of exotic luxury and peace, as mudbricks do a great job of isolating from the street noise, keeping cool in summer and warm in winter. Kasbahs, on the other hand are lovingly restored old citadels or forts. They are found wherever there once was commercial interest worth protecting: salt, sugar, gold, slaves. These fortified quarters housed the ruling family and all the necessities for living in case of a siege. Due to the nature of fortified buildings, the rooms in kasbahs are small and wonderfully cool.