Photo. Koutoubia Mosque - A real wonder in Morocco.
The minaret tower, which dwarfs the nearby palm trees, includes a secondary tower, a dome, a spire of four orbs, and a flag poleThe minaret is topped by a spire. The spire includes gilded copper balls, decreasing in size towards the top, a traditional style of Morocco.
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By far the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia is named after the nearby book trader’s souk which dates back to the 12th century. Located close to the Djemaa el Fna square, the mosque is known for its splendid collection of manuscripts, books and libraries. It is best recognised by its magnificent minaret; one of the three ancient Almohad minarets known as the oldest the world. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the mosque’s interior however tourists are welcome to visit the stunning gardens. The minaret is a prominent feature in the Marrakesh skyline and can be seen from across the city. This beautifully crafted mosque is a must-see attraction in Morocco.
The Koutoubia Mosque or Kutubiyya Mosque (Arabic: جامع الكتبية Arabic pronunciation: [jaːmiʕu‿lkutubijːa(h)]) is the largest mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami' al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh.
The mosque is ornamented with curved windows, a band of ceramic inlay, pointed merlons, and decorative arches; it has a large plaza with gardens, and is floodlit at night. The minaret, 77 metres (253 ft) in height, includes a spire and orbs. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199), and has inspired other buildings such as the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat
The minaret is designed in almohad style and was constructed of sandstone. It was originally covered with Marrakshi pink plaster, but in the 1990s, experts opted to expose the original stone work and removed the plaster. The minaret tower is 77 metres (253 ft) in height, including the spire, itself 8 metres (26 ft) tall. Each side of the square base is 12.8 metres (42 ft) in length. The minaret is visible from a distance of 29 kilometres (18 mi). Its prominence makes it a landmark structure of Marrakesh, which is maintained by an ordinance prohibiting any high rise buildings (above the height of a palm tree) to be built around it. The muezzin calling the faithful for the adhan (prayer), is given from the four cardinal directions at the top of the minaret.
The Koutoubia Mosque
Built by the Almohads in the late years of 12th Century, the Koutoubia Mosque, and specially its minaret, is the most important landmark of Marrakech, and a symbol of the city itself. The minaret served as model for the Giralda in Sevilla and the unfinished Tour Hassan in Rabat, all three being designed by the same architect. Koutoubia means ‘booksellers’, as the trade of books was concentrated in the neighbourhood during the Middle Ages. The minaret of the Koutoubia, 77 meters high, is visible from almost any point of the city – an old ordinance, still in force, forbids any building of Marrakech to surpass the Koutoubia minaret in height.
Built in the 16th Century as mausoleum for some Saadian rulers and their families, the Saadian Tombs were unknown of until they were discovered by the French in 1917 thanks to aerial photographs. The site comprises more than one hundred graves, distributed in 3 mausoleums whose decoration exemplifies Islamic architecture with floral motifs, calligraphy, zellij and carrara marble, and finely worked cedar wood and stucco. Outside the buildings are a garden and the graves of soldiers and servants.
El Bahia Palace
Built in the late 19th Century, and decorated by the best artisans of Morocco at the time, this palace – intended to be the most magnificent of its age – features an exquisite blend of Andalousian and Moorish styles. Specially interesting are the harem apartments, the trapezoidal garden, and a huge tiled courtyard with fountains.
Djemaa El Fna, the Square
Nobody knows for certain of the origin of this square, whose name evokes, in Arabic, the contradictory notions of assembly or gathering, and that of absence. Probably as old as the city itself, it was a place for public executions during the day, and the meeting point of musicians, mystics, food sellers, pickpockets, acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers, dancers, fortune tellers and other exotic characters at night (happily enough, nowadays it only retains its more playful aspect). Watching sunset from one of its terraces when the call to prayer from the Koutoubia minaret fills the air is one of these ‘zen’ moments that Morocco offers – do not miss it!