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or seeing without being seen.
In all civilisations, and already in the Middle Ages, we have wanted to keep watch on, defend and protect our territory, our home, or our castle from all exterior intrusions.
Watchtower on military buildings, moucharebieh for dwellings in Arab countries. have become peepholes, two-way mirrors or surveillance cameras for all building or house doors, both in the Orient and the West.
For military or domestic purposes, the same desire to see without being seen!
In Essaouira, there are several houses equipped with peepholes, but in passing by the back streets, raising your gaze, little wooden boxes jutting out from the walls, or moucharabiehs call your attention. A tradition which is being lost along with destructions, constructions or renovations, but the city still possesses some specimens.
Vauban-style watchtowers on the fortifications at the port, a beautiful masonry architectural element on the commissary buildings in the Méchouar quarter, or small vestiges of these traditions, a type of square wooden pavilions, in the medina’s alleyways.
From the 14th to the 16th century, the watchtower meant the sentinel. Today, the term means the small construction designed to shelter the look-out in a fortified castle, watching over the country’s long horizon.
The moucharabieh has the same purposes as the watchtower, and almost all Islamic countries offer examples, either for religious or secular use.
Derived from the Arab word « machrabiyyah », the moucharabieh is a woodwork trellis made up of an assembly of balusters, coils and moulding, retained by pegs.
The arrangement of elements offers varied geometric combinations. In certain funerary mosques, the moucharabieh is a sort of moulded screen and acts to insulate the cenotaph from the revered deceased; it resembles the maksoura, which is a large partition made of pierced wood
The oldest examples stretch back to Ayyoubide cenotaphs from the 13th century. In private homes, we can see without being seen in the loggias overhanging the street. The term also signifies the polygonal little towers that jut out, where we place the porous jugs to cool water by evaporation.
The city has some lovely examples, but certain ones have most likely escaped our research. A good reason to discover the city’s streets, raising your head toward the terraces, but while paying careful attention to where you put your feet