Medersa Ben Youssef

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by billmoy on December 20, 2002

This wonderful old school is the preeminent medersa (or "madrasa") in Marrakesh. It was constructed for Sultan Moulay Abdullah el-Ghalib of the Saadians in 1565 and is adjacent to the older mosque with the same name. This was the largest Koranic school in the Maghreb with a capacity of several hundred teachers and students in its heyday, and was finally closed in 1960. Now it has been remodeled and opened for viewing to appreciative visitors.

After you pay your entrance fee (20 dirham as of November 2002) and get a nice color pamphlet (in French), you walk down a corridor before you encounter the various spaces of the inner court. You may meet a guide, but you can shake him off easily. The complex is centered on its lovely courtyard, with a fountain and reflecting basin. The walls and doorways are ornately decorated in a variety of materials. There are usually a few plastic chairs located within the arcaded colonnades in the shade; stylistically they look totally out of place but they offer a welcome opportunity to rest. The fine prayer hall contains the mihrab (prayer niche). The lower level also contains the ablutions hall and latrine.

Walk up the upper level and peek into some of the small student cells. Some have magnificent views of the central courtyard below. Notice the contrast of the elaborately manipulated materials and the play of light and shadow upon them. There is a small postcard stand in the vestibule adjacent to the main courtyard.

Medersa Ben Youssef
Place Ben Youssef
Marrakesh, Morocco
(044) 39 09 11

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