“What fills the eyes, fills the heart.” I am sure Herwig Bartels thought the same when he fell in love with all the art he was collecting while travelling through the Orient. And when he arrived in Marrakech, where he left his heart and decided to live after he retired.
But let’s get back in time: my last trip to Marrakech brought me to Riyad El Cadi, an unique riad hotel located just behind the oh so famous Djemaa el Fna square and in the middle of the old city medina. The doors opened and my stay immediately turned into a history of art lesson. Everywhere you looked you could find Asian wall hangings, oriental paintings, Ottoman clothes, Chinese cupboards, early Berber textiles, rural Moroccan pottery.
In his working life as a diplomat, Herwig Bartels passionately collected Islamic arts. During his mission as German Ambassador to Morocco he found the ideal place to live and to host and show his internationally renowned collection: Riyad El Cadi (meaning “judge”, as a Moroccan judge used to lived there), built in the 14th century. A magical place where he also wanted to rest after a long working life. At the beginning he only welcomed friends and art experts and collectors from all over the world – only to realize that he could also host foreign guests. Since 2000 the riyad is run as a hotel and today it consists of 9 houses and 2000 m² giving space to 34 guests who get spoiled by a 19 persons staff. This place is not what you expect from other typical Moroccan riyads to look like, here you feel like the whole middle East and Asia and Africa is in one place. And the magic behind it: all fits into one place. And you feel extremely comfortable. And you nurture your brain cells with art and history. This is what I call inspiration.
Dear Family Bartels, shukran bezeef for this unique cultural excursion!