The Koutoubia of Marrakech

The Koutoubia of Marrakech
The Koutoubia of Marrakech

The Koutoubia Mosque is located in the very heart of the medina of Marrakech, and is one of the great Muslim temples in the whole the Almohad architecture. In fact, its minaret served as a model for other later minarets, both in Morocco itself, and in Spain, where the Giralda tower, before it became the bell tower of the cathedral of Seville, it would be similar to this minaret.

Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque

Koutoubia Mosque Minaret

Without a doubt, the tower is the most outstanding element of this mosque that was built in the 12th century. It is a tower that reaches almost 70 meters in height, which makes it the tallest building in Marrakech, and even by law it is forbidden to build buildings that exceed it in height. This tower has six floors connected by ramps. And in the highest part there is a crenellated balustrade. Also in the highest part there are four balls as in many other Muslim minarets, but in this case it is said that they were originally made of gold, something more than remarkable knowing that the largest of these balls is 2 meters in diameter.

However, regarding that four balls there are several legends. One says that originally there were only three, representing the earthly world, the heavenly world, and the spirit world. ButAl Mansuradded a fourth of gold, melting down all his jewels, in one actof penance after breaking ramadan by eating three grapes.

That is not the only thing that has not survived to this day, since a large part of its external ornamentation based on mosaics and paintings throughout the tower has been lost, although a band of green tiles on top.

Originally, this mosque was known for its extensive library, in fact, its name could be translated as “mosque of books”. And also outside there were hundreds of stalls selling books, which at that time were obviously manuscripts.

In those days, the interior of the mosque had 17 naves and occupied an area of ​​60 x 90 meters, which made it one of the largest temples in the entire in the middle of the 12th century Islam. And that's not counting the patio that has two porches.

This work began in the year 1141 under the government of Abd Al Munin, but he did not see it finished, since it was finished with the mandate of Yusuf Yaqub Al-Mansur, in 1158. There used to be a mosque from the Berber dynasty on the same site, but the Almohads wanted to transform it into a space ruled by sobriety, like the one that continues to breathe today in day in the great marrakesh temple.

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