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"The Kairouyine Mosque" Morocco Things to Do Tip by traveldave

Morocco Things to Do: 725 reviews and 1,654 photos


The Kairouyine Mosque was founded in 859 A.D. by Fatima bint Mohammed al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Mohammed al-Fihri. It is part of the Kairouyine University, the oldest continuously functioning university in the world.

Mohammed al-Fihri and his family, along with 2,000 other families, were banished from Kairouyine, Tunisa after a revolt. They emmigrated to Fez, where they established a community on the west side of the city. Fatima bint Mohammed al-Fihri was an educated and religious woman who used all of her large inheritance to construct a mosque for the community.

In addition to serving as a place of worship, the Kairouyine Mosque became a madrasa, a place for religious instruction and political discussion. Nowadays, it is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers in the Muslim world.

Over the centuries, successive dynasties remodeled and expanded the mosque. In 956 A.D., the Umayyad caliph of Córdoba, Abd al-Rahman III expanded the building to accommodate 20,000 worshipers, making it the largest mosque in North Africa. In addition, a square minaret was constructed, which served as a model for most minarets in Morocco and elsewhere in North Africa. A tradition arose at that time in which the other mosques in Fez would make their call to prayer only after hearing the call to prayer from the Kairouyine Mosque.

The mosque was expanded again in 1135 by the Almoravid sultan, Ali ibn Yusuf. He increased the number of aisles from 18 to 20. And it was at this time that the mosque took on its current form. It was outfitted with its characteristic horseshoe arches and geometrical and floral zellij tiles bordered by Khufic calligraphy.

The Kairouyine Mosque is located deep in the heart of Fez's souq, and is one of the places visited on a quided tour of the souq. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter, but can take photographs from outside the courtyard.

Directions: The Kairouyine Mosque is located on Rue Bou Touil, in Fez's souq.

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  • Updated Aug 8, 2012
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