A splendid place to admire traditional Moroccan architecture while unwinding from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Ali Ben Youssef medersa is a must for anyone interested in art, architecture and Islamic culture in general. A medersa, an intricately decorated school building as impressive in its way as any European university, is critical to the culture of Muslims.
A Brief History
Founded in the 14th Century by Abu al-Hassan, the then ruling Marinid Sultan, the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa is Morocco’s largest madrasa. In 1565, a reconstruction of the original building ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib (Saadian Sultan 1557 to 1574) was completed. Restored again in 1950 before being closed to both the general public and the faithful in 1960, the madrasa was finally reopened to in 1982 following further restoration work to permit visitors to experience this exquisite master-piece of Moroccan architecture and art.
Featuring 130 dormitory cells for students clustered around a richly carved courtyard with its central rectangular pool and two bronze fountains, Ali Ben Youssef Medersa was one of North Africa’s largest theological colleges and was home to perhaps as many as 900 students at a time.