The Koutoubia Mosque or the Koutoubia Hermitage is one of the well-established Islamic landmarks in the history of tourism in Marrakech The Koutoubia is located in the centre of the city.
The mosque is located approximately 200 meters west of the Jemaa El-Fna square, one of the most famous squares in the city, which was established after its inception.
The first Koutoubia Mosque was built by the Andalusian engineer Yaish al-Malqi and commissioned by the Almohad Caliph Abd al-Moumen bin Ali al-Koumi in the year 1147 AD. The second mosque was built in 1158 AD at the same time as the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville in Andalusia.
The architectural shape of the minaret is influenced by Andalusian architecture, which is distinguished by the decoration of an Islamic character.
It is similar in size to the first building and is organized in a rectangular prayer hall with seventeen porticos oriented perpendicularly towards the qiblah, borne by columns and symmetrical arches and unique capitals reminiscent of those we find in the Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez.
All the names and pronunciations of the Koutoubia Mosque, including Koutoubia, Al-Kutubiya, and Al-Kutubiya are based on the Arabic word Al-Kutubiya, meaning “booksellers”.
The Koutoubia Marrakech collector reflects the high-profile book trade that was practised in the nearby market. At one time, there were about 100 booksellers in the streets adjacent to the mosque.
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Koutoubia Mosque architecture
The architectural details of the first mosque and the new mosque are almost identical except for the orientation. Thus, what applies to one applies to the other, although the first mosque is now just an archaeological ruin.
The Koutoubia Marrakech has a distinctive Almohad design, and its various elements are similar to many other mosques of the same period.
The building, built of bricks and sandstone, has a purpose of 80 meters to the east and 60 meters to the west in the north-south direction.
Brickwork has been found in the columns, porticos, centre of the qibla wall and the mihrab. Sandstone was used for the outer walls, which were built in the south, east and west direction, and there are simple Kufic inscriptions on the two walls.
The mosque’s minbar is very impressive, and its construction dates back to the era of Abd al-Mu’min, and it still preserves much of its beauty and freshness, even though some of its edges have been repressed over the years.
This orientalist pulpit fascinated Teras, describing it as the most beautiful pulpit in the West, and indeed the most wonderful pulpit in the entire Islamic world. This minbar was made in Andalusia of red and yellow oud and sandalwood, and it had gold and silver plates.
Behind the prayer, the house is the courtyard of the mosque, and it has sidewalks or corridors surrounding it on its three sides.
The pillars on which the arches of these sidewalks rest are characterized by being serrated with two right angles on either side of its prominent face overlooking the courtyard. Likewise, the pillars surround the naves of the Tinmel and Seville mosques.
Although most of the elements of the Koutoubia Mosque and its parts consist of walls and domes built with unspecified pieces of stone, their sizes are consistent. Despite this, the doors of the mosque on the eastern side are built with bricks, while the western doors are mixed with bricks.
The eastern wall of the Koutoubia Marrakech is erected with beautifully arranged blocks of stone. The building ends at the top with rows of bricks, as well as the pillars of the prayer house, the nave and the arches are all built with bricks.
The minaret tower, which towers over the neighbouring palm trees, includes a secondary tower, a dome, a four-circle lighthouse and a flagpole.
The minaret was designed in the Almohad style and constructed of limestone. It was originally covered in Marrakech pink plaster, but in the 1990s experts chose to unearth the original stonework and remove the plaster.
The minaret tower is 77 meters high and includes the dome, which rises 8 meters. Each side of the square base rises to a length of 12.8 metres. The minaret is visible from 29 km away.
Its fame has made it a highlight of Marrakesh, which is subject to preservation by a decree prohibiting the construction of any tall buildings (higher than the neighbouring palm trees).
The muezzin raises the call to prayer from the four main directions on the top of the minaret.
Koutoubia Mosaue Date
The ruins were revealed by archaeological excavations of the first Koutoubia Mosque on the north side of the current mosque.
The Almohads captured the city of Marrakesh after the death of the Almoravid leader Ali ibn Yusuf in 1147. The Almohads did not want to leave any trace of religious monuments built by the Almohads, their sworn enemy, as they were considered heretics.
Abd al-Mu’in, who won that area, was responsible for building the first Koutoubia Mosque on the lands of the former Ali ibn Yusuf palace in the southwest of the city. The first mosque was built between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157.
This Koutoubia Marrakech was rebuilt during the reign of the united caliph Jacob al-Mansur, and in the middle of the construction process it was known that the direction of the mihrab was not directed towards the qiblah, and the mosque witnessed many modifications until the end of the 12th century when the Andalusians defeated the Unitarians