Venue, Culture

The towering Koutoubia

Per: Majda FADILI  

HISTORY Amongst the rare jewels of the city of Marrakech is the Koutoubia Mosque, located in the southwest of the old medina. We will take you on a journey to explore the story behind this towering trademark.

The birth

The construction of the mosque has begun in 1147, carried on till 1157. It was during the Almohads’ era, under the reign of Abd Al Mumin, deciding to leave their heritage and legacy on a spiritual aspect as well. Nonetheless, multiple modifications were made due to the orientation of the Minaret not being aligned with the Mecca. These changes were concluded by the end of the 12th century. The Mosque has gotten its name from its proximity to the old Souk of book sellers, there was once more than a 100 book sellers making their living on the near grounds of the Mosque. As you know, the name Koutoubia is derived from the word Book in Arabic. As its walls are aging, the mosque grows in beauty, and its towering minaret is visible for a stretched radius of 29 kilometers.

Architectural heritage

The Koutoubia is unique in its dimensions, the way it was designed and the influence of different cultures. It is only a few hundred meters from Jemaa El Fna, another trademark of the red city. The mosque is vast in size as it holds more than 20 000 people and also in height, as its minaret is towering at 77 meters. There happens to be four entrances to the mosque. Another two, reserved for the Muaadin and another for the prince at that era. The mosque is made mainly from red stone, bricks and sand stone. For decoration there is the ceramic inlay, pointed merlons, arches and the curved windows, portraying the Moroccan-Andalusian style. You can also find the ablution fountain in the middle of the courtyard. As we reach the top of the Mosque our eyes are welcomed with the unique minbar, designed by engineer al-Hajj Ya'ish; using ebony and ivory and silver inlay work. Non-Muslims are not allowed entry to the mosque, but they can always enjoy its surroundings, its garden plaza, and the architectural height of the minaret.