Koutobia Mosque and Minaret

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by billmoy on December 20, 2002

The Koutoubia Mosque of the 12th Century is perhaps most noted for its famous minaret, which towers to a height of nearly 230 feet (it is today still taller than any building in Marrakesh). It is one of the "big three" of landmark minarets built by the Almohads; the others are the great Giralda in Sevilla, Spain and the incomplete one of the Hassan II Mosque in Rabat. The attractive design of the minaret, topped by three golden spheres, is still seen as a prototype of Islamic architecture. The exterior features the reddish orange color that is found all over Marrakesh.

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.

Koutobia Mosque and Minaret
near Avenue Mohammed V in the medina
Marrakesh, Morocco


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