Koutoubia Mosque

Top choice mosque in Djemaa El Fna & Around

Image by monticello Shutterstock

Five times a day, one voice rises above the Djemaa din as the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque minaret. Excavations confirm a 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 (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.


Advertisement