The 2023 Morocco earthquake killed thousands of people and ruined many historical sites in Marrakech and other regions of the country. The quake, which had a magnitude of 6.8, was the most powerful and deadly to strike Morocco in over a hundred years. The earthquake also had a profound impact on Morocco’s cultural and artistic scene, as many artists and writers felt the urge to convey their sorrow, solidarity, and strength through their creative works.
One of the sites that suffered the most from the earthquake was the Koutoubia Mosque. This is the biggest mosque in Marrakech and a symbol of the city’s Islamic legacy. The mosque, built in the 12th century, sustained serious damage to its minaret, dome, and walls.
The mosque was also a museum for Moroccan artists, such as Hassan El Glaoui. He painted several landscapes of the mosque and its surroundings. After the earthquake, some artists paid homage to the mosque by creating works of paintings that portray its beauty and splendor before and after the disaster. One example is the painting by Abdellah Sadouk, titled “Koutoubia: Before and After”, which shows the difference between an intact and damaged mosque in a split-screen style.
Another site heavily affected by the earthquake was the Bahia Palace, a 19th-century palace that showcases Moroccan architectural style and craftsmanship.
The palace, once home to a Moroccan grand vizier, was turned into rubble by the earthquake. It left behind only pieces of its intricate mosaics, carved woodwork, and painted ceilings.
The palace was also a favorite destination for many writers, such as Paul Bowles. Bowles described it as “a labyrinth of luxury” in his novel The Spider’s House. After the earthquake, some writers decided to honor the palace by writing poems and stories that reflect on its historical and cultural significance. One example is the poem by Fatima Zahra Bennis, titled “Bahia: A Palace of Dreams”. This poem invokes memories and emotions associated with the palace before its destruction.
The 2023 Morocco earthquake caused physical damage and emotional trauma for many Moroccans and visitors alike. However, it also sparked a wave of artistic expression that aimed to preserve and celebrate Morocco’s rich heritage. Through their paintings, poems, stories, and other works, many artists and writers showed their solidarity with the victims and hope for recovery and reconstruction. Their works also reminded us of Morocco’s beauty and resilience.