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April 25, 2011
From journal Intense Marrakech
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 22, 2004
The minaret of the mosque can be seen from the Place Djemaa el Fna. A symbol of the Berber city and a central landmark, it rises 252 feet into the sky, towers over the town and its palm groves, and stands like a sentinel at the gates of the Sahara. The five-to-one ratio between the height and width of the minaret confers a perfect harmony on the tower. A masterpiece of Hispano-Moresque art, it looks very similar to the Giralda of Seville. Its pink stone walls are decorated with festooned arches, painted floral motifs, and carved tracery. Only a few fragments remain of the blue, turquoise, and white frieze that once adorned the top of the minaret. The first of the four copper balls atop the lantern is so small that it is invisible from the ground, the second, 6.5 feet in diameter, is huge, whilst the third and fourth are respectively half and three-fourths the size of the second. Our guide tells us a curious tale of the balls being made from some gold jewellery belonging to the wife of Yacoub el Mansour, its architect, who is said to have offered the pieces in atonement for having broken the fast of Ramadan for several hours. The balance of the balls is supposedly maintained by the influence of the planets.
From journal Memories of Marrakesh
December 20, 2002
The minaret was built from 1150 to 1190, and is still in good condition after a bit of recent restoration. The tower, which is 42 feet square, was constructed with inner and outer walls sandwiching a ramp that goes to the top. The exterior was originally plastered and painted, but now the original stonework is more apparent. Note the nicely carved window arches on the four facades of the tower, which have subtle differences from each other. Distinctive horizontal bands of ceramic tile ring the minaret, which is nicely illuminated at night to cement its landmark status in the city.
The construction of the mosque was begun in 1147, with a second building campaign occurring in 1158. To the north of the current mosque, there is some ongoing reconstruction. As with almost all active mosques in Morocco, only Muslims are allowed to enter the Koutoubia Mosque.
The fenced park to the west of the mosque has a long, attractively tiled reflecting pool that indeed reflects the minaret. Walk through and around the park for some nice views of the minaret by itself and interplaying with fruit trees.
From journal Bill in Morocco - MARRAKESH