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The existence of so many ancient, walled Medinas in Morocco – intact and still bustling with life – is largely due to Marshal Hubert Lyautey, the first of France’s Resident Generals, and the most sympathetic to local culture. In colonizing Algeria, the French had destroyed most of the Arab towns, and Lyautey found this already under way when he arrived in Rabat in 1912, but, realizing the aesthetic loss – and the inappropriateness of wholesale Europeanization – he ordered demolition to be halted and had the Ville Nouvelle built outside the walls instead. His precedent was followed throughout the French and Spanish zones of the country, inevitably creating “native quarters”, but preserving continuity with the past. Lyautey left Morocco in 1925 but when he died in 1934 he was returned and buried in a Moorish monument in Rabat until 1961, when his body was “repatriated” to Paris.

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