The Moqri Palace: Where electricity and spiritual energies meet

The façades (L, R) of the Moqri Palace towering above the inner courtyard and the geometric allegory of the birth of the universe (C). Photo: TVP World

In the Moroccan city of Fez, where the carnal meets the spiritual, there is a palace built by the prosperous Moqri family – a palace where electricity flows along with more subtle esoteric energies.

Through an iron gate and down a cobblestone ramp winding around a small garden, travellers pass through an arched portal, a high-ceiled corridor and step out onto a long courtyard. It’s a bit Italian but the zellij mosaic tilework leaves no doubt about its primarily Moroccan style.

Built in the late 19th century by the Moqris – a wealthy family of merchant origin which rose to prominence within Morocco’s royal government, the palace at its time was a truly pioneering design boasting several ingenious amenities.

First of them, as the family’s descendants claim today, was an energy generator – a waterwheel propelled by one of the many streams flowing down the side of the hill upon which Fez had been built. The generator would provide energy to the entire house, which provided a great deal of luxury at a time when the only other electrified place in Morocco was the coastal port city of Casablanca.

Another inventive solution was an audio system that would transport the sound of instruments played in a chamber located on the first floor of the edifice. The system consisted of a cylindrical duct carved out in the walls of galleries and rooms. The duct was fitted with metal plates or metal tubes to augment sound reflection. Thanks to the contraption, visitors and inhabitants of the house could enjoy music without necessarily moving away from their activities.

Aside from technical inventions, Dar El-Moqri dazzles inquisitive wayfarers with a spectacle of colourful lights produced by its stained-glass windows and breathtaking patterns of tilework. A keen observer will immediately know that there’s more than meets the eye and the meticulously arranged ceramic pieces are not a result of haphazard

“Holy geometry”

Ranging from symbols pertaining to all-seeing eyes, crosses, and all-encompassing spheres to the matrix of the universe, the house is dotted with esoteric allusions. As a Moqri family member told TVP World, the founder and builder of the residence, Abdelsalam El-Moqri, organised esoteric soirées at his palace where intellectuals and spirituals came together to meditate and reflect on the building blocks of reality and what lies beyond.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of the “sacred geometry” bound in the tilework of El-Moqri Palace is the model depicting the birth of the universe. From a Big Bang-like burst of energy, stars and rays of light are emitted centrifugally. When the beholder takes their sight away from the core of creation, they can see that the tiles become orderly and arranged into what resembles a starlit sky. Should one bring back their eyes to the central burst and relax the sight, a peculiar phenomenon emerges. Between the core and the ejecting triangle-shaped beams, a blurry hallow will appear and the beams themselves will seem as if emitting their own, soft light.

The El-Moqri Palace is just one of the myriad mysteries hidden all over the city of Fes, so make sure to dedicate a couple of days to the exploration of this true gem of culture and architecture when you visit Morocco.