Koutoubia Mosque

sights / Religious

Koutoubia Mosque information

Location
Marrakesh , Morocco
Address
cnr Rue el-Koutoubia & Ave Mohammed V
Opening hours
mosque & minaret closed to non-Muslims, gardens open 8am-8pm
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Five times a day, one voice rises above the Djemaa din in the adhan ( call to prayer): that’s the muezzin calling the faithful from atop the Koutoubia Mosque minaret. Excavations confirm a longstanding Marrakshi legend: the original mosque built by Almoravid architects wasn’t properly aligned with Mecca, so the pious Almohads levelled it to build a realigned one. When the present mosque was finished by Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour in the 12th century, 100 booksellers were clustered around its base – hence the name, from kutubiyyin, or booksellers.

While the Koutoubia serves a spiritual purpose, its minaret is also a point of reference for international architecture. The 12th-century 70m-high tower is the prototype for Seville’s La Giralda and Rabat’s Le Tour Hassan, and it’s a monumental cheat sheet of Moorish ornament: scalloped keystone arches, jagged merlons (crenellations), and mathematically pleasing proportions. The minaret was sheathed in Marrakshi pink plaster, but experts opted to preserve its exposed stone in its 1990s restoration.