For those who do not know what a Dar is…the word Arabic word Dar actually means “house”, however, it implies a traditional Moroccan house. As you approach the dar from the small alley, you will notice many doors looking fairly similar. The doors are usually made of carved wood with a tiled step entrance. Each door has its own personality; some with large hand-crafted knockers or designed with large rounded nail heads. When you open the door, you will enter into a hallway that still does not yet give you the satisfaction of seeing into the heart of the house. In the past this hall has offered privacy while allowing the outside door to be open to the public. What is held behind the door is truly a diamond in the rough.
When you finally pass through the hallway, you are greeted with a burst of sunlight filling the center courtyard. The courtyard is the center of the house and all the rooms and stairways are connected to it. In most dars the courtyard is left open to the sky to allow the fresh air and sunlight to come in. Unlike a riad, dars do not have a garden in the center courtyard.
Traditional dars are created using local techniques and design. The floor and walls are tiled with the traditional zelieg; small colored tiles, hand cut and fitted together to form a geometric pattern or design. The plasterwork is carved by hand while mounted on the walls. It is sometimes painted but most of the time they are left their natural white plaster of Paris color. The dar is also decorated with the hand-carved cedar wood work that is carefully crafted with amazing detail that brings a person to stop and look, even if they have already seen it hundreds of times.
In most dars there are six to eight rooms which are all decorated in the traditional design. Styles of the dar vary, as they are decorated to the satisfaction of the owner. Still, they all have one thing in common; they are a place of beauty and authentic hospitality.