Koutoubia Mosque | Marrakesh, Morocco Attractions

Five instances a day, one voice rises above the din of Djemaa El Fna because the muezzin calls the trustworthy to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque. The mosque’s minaret has been standing guard over the outdated metropolis for the reason that Almohads erected it within the Twelfth century. Today it is Marrakesh’s most well-known landmark. The tower is a monumental cheat sheet of Moorish decoration: scalloped keystone arches, jagged merlon crenelations and mathematically pleasing proportions.

Koutoubia Mosque structure

They say imitation is the best praise, and the Twelfth-century 250ft-high minaret has fairly the repute as an architectural muse. It’s the prototype for the Giralda in Seville, Spain, and Le Tour Hassan in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Unlike Middle Eastern mosques, which have domed minarets, the Koutoubia’s sq. design is an Amazigh trademark.

There are not any stairs contained in the minaret, solely a ramp that the muezzin would have as soon as ridden up on horseback to offer the decision to prayer.

The minaret of Koutoubia Mosque has distinctive structure © Balate Dorin / Shutterstock

Legends of Koutoubia Mosque

The Koutoubia Mosque minaret is topped by a spire of brass balls. Once constituted of gold, native legend tells that the balls had been “gifted” to the mosque by the spouse of Almohad sultan Yacoub Al Mansour, who melted down her jewellery as punishment after being noticed consuming throughout Ramadan fasting hours.

Today, the balls are crammed with particular mineral salt from the High Atlas Mountains, which incorporates nitrate and magnesium that forestalls the spire from oxidizing. The salt is modified annually, throughout Ramadan, to take care of the golden glint. In entrance of the spire, the picket stick factors in the direction of Mecca (all mosques within the Marrakesh medina have this characteristic) and can be used to bear flags on non secular holidays.

Another Marrakshi legend tells that the pious Almohads had the unique mosque felled midway by means of constructing as a result of it wasn’t correctly aligned with Mecca. Exact dates of development are murky. 

Prayer hall memorial at Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco
Koutoubia Mosque’s unique prayer corridor may need been demolished by the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal © Adam Smigielski / Getty Images

Ruins of the Koutoubia Mosque prayer corridor

On the northwestern facet of the Koutoubia Mosque minaret are the ruins of the unique prayer corridor. One story goes that it collapsed in the course of the large 1755 Lisbon earthquake, killing a whole lot of individuals because it crumbled. Research suggests this may very well be believable. To the north of the Koutoubia minaret, the unique doorway nonetheless stands. On the far wall of the ruins the stays of the arches that may have held up the ceiling are seen. The stumps on the ground are the corridor’s columns, they usually keep in situ as a memorial.

In Arabic, djemaa means congregation in addition to gathering, and one concept is that the true translation of Djemaa El Fna, the well-known sq. in Marrakesh that is close to Koutoubia Mosque, shouldn’t be “assembly of the dead,” however “mosque of the dead,” a legacy of the tragic occasion that occurred right here.

Meaning of Koutoubia Mosque

In the nineteenth century, as many as 100 booksellers clustered across the Koutoubia Mosque’s base – therefore the identify, from kutubiyyin (which means booksellers in Arabic). Before that point, it was merely known as the Almohad Mosque, after its founders.

Fountain of Koutoubia Gardens with the Koutoubia Mosque minaret in the background
The Koutoubia Gardens are a beautiful place to calm down away from the mayhem of the Marrakesh medina © Olena_Z / Getty Images

Koutoubia Gardens

Stretching out behind the Koutoubia Mosque, the palm-tree-dotted inexperienced swath of Koutoubia Gardens is a favourite Marrakshi spot for strolling, enjoyable on park benches and usually taking a quiet break. If you want some downtime after dodging motorbikes amid the medina’s skinny alleyways, take the locals’ lead and head right here for a peaceable meander. Koutoubia Gardens are one of many best parks in Marrakesh, and there are nice views of the Koutoubia Mosque’s minaret.

Visiting Koutoubia Mosque

Non-Muslims can’t go contained in the Koutoubia Mosque or minaret however are most certainly to get a glimpse inside on a Friday when the doorways are open for prayers. The greatest spot from which to {photograph} the Koutoubia’s minaret – framed by outdated stone and date palms – is beneath the archway to the left of the principle entrance.

Where to remain close to Koutoubia Mosque

Koutoubia Mosque is simply exterior of the Marrakesh medina partitions, a brief stroll from Djemaa El Fna sq.. Marrakesh’s largest focus of finances resorts is on this space, most solely a stone’s throw from the sq., alongside Rue Sidi Bouloukat and Rue de la Recette (simple strolling distance from each the airport bus and taxi drop-off factors). Upmarket riad lodging is discovered off Rue Riad Zitoun El Jedid.

Where to eat close to Koutoubia Mosque

Refuel with a sugar repair at Pâtisserie des Princes, lauded for its pastries (although the ice cream is scrumptious too). For a refreshing mint tea with a view of the Koutoubia Mosque minaret, head throughout the highway to beautiful old school Café El Koutoubia.

How to get to Koutoubia Mosque

Bus 16 from the Gueliz neighborhood drops you immediately reverse the mosque. Koutoubia Mosque is a one-minute stroll west of Djemaa El Fna, and a 25-minute stroll from Gueliz, straight down Avenue Mohammed V.

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