Added in 1984, Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion brought not just a new nation to World Showcase but also a new continent. The Pavilion offers some of the most exquisite architectural detailing in any Disney Park, according to the Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot, with its design having been overseen by King Hassan II of Morocco himself, who sent some of his finest craftsmen, or maalems, to work on site alongside Disney Imagineers cutting and laying nine tons of tile and hand carved stone. Despite this attention to detail, there are several intentional flaws in the craftsmanship. Because the people of Morocco believe no one is perfect but their god, certain subtle errors were included in the design.
The Pavilion’s architecture takes inspiration from four major cities in the kingdom: Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rabbat, and Fez, and incorporates the traditional Moroccan layout of two divided sections. An older portion of the city, the Medina, would have surrounded a palace. It would, as it does here, house a marketplace with vendors and artisans. A sort of sprawling suburbia, or ville nouvelle, would progress into more modern offerings as it extended outward from the Medina. Both are finely represented by Disney Imagineers’ layering of spaces. Also represented are the Nejjarine Fountain from Fez, minarets—prayer towers—from Chella, Rabat and Koiutoubia, and a slightly modified Bab Boujouloud Gate from Fez.
Per the U.S. Department of State: Morocco was the first country to seek diplomatic relations with the Government of the United States in 1777 and remains one of its oldest and closest allies in the region. Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787, when the two nations negotiated a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history. As testament to the special nature of the U.S.-Moroccan relationship, Tangier is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only building on foreign soil that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the American Legation in Tangier (now a museum).
A framed replica of His Majesty Mohamed III’s correspondence with President George Washington
adorns the wall of Restaurant Marrakesh. Photo via Bryan Irrera, Flickr
May is preservation month! The event, sponsored by local preservation groups, state historical societies, businesses and civic organizations across the United States, was established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The registry website explains, “During Preservation Month, many events are planned to promote historic places for the purpose of instilling national and community pride, promoting heritage tourism, and showing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.” You can find lists of your local activities by exploring the United States National Registry of Historic Places or by visiting the National Park Service’s Preservation Month Feature, your State Historic Preservation Office website, or the National Trust’s calendar. If you live near a historic place, plan a field trip to tour the site and learn its significance to our nation. You might be surprised to find one close to home! Perhaps Route 66, the Subway Terminal in L.A., or Woodlawn (former home of George Washington’s adopted daughter) in Alexandria, Virginia.
The National Registry also offers educational resources with their Teaching with Historic Places program, which includes 131 online, classroom-re
ady lesson plans that explore America’s past by examining historic sites.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: History
SKILL LEVEL: All
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