Kairaouine Mosque & University

Mosque in Medina

One of Africa’s largest mosques and possibly the oldest university in the world, this complex is the spiritual heart of Fez and Morocco itself. It's so large that it can be difficult to actually see: over the centuries the streets and houses of the Kairaouine quarter have encroached on the building so much they disguise its true shape. Non-Muslims cannot enter.

Non-Muslims will have to be content with glimpses of the mosque's courtyard from the main door on Derb Boutouil. Better still, take the view from any vantage point over the medina: the huge green pyramidal roof and minaret immediately announce their presence.

The complex was established in 859 by Fatima El Fihria, a female Tunisian refugee, and expanded by the Almoravids in the 12th century, and can accommodate up to 20,000 people at prayer.

The Kairaouine Library has recently been impressively restored and is open to local students, but is not open to the public. The entrance to the library is at the other side of the complex, on Place Seffarine.