Top 5 reasons why you should visit Ben Youssef madrasa in Marrakech, Morocco
The Ben Youssef Madrasa is an Islamic college in Marrakesh, Morocco. Functioning today as an Islamic historical site, the Ben Youssef Madrasa was the largest Islamic college in Morocco during its height. Named after the Almoravid Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106-1142), who expanded the city of Marrakesh and its influence considerably, the madrasa that stands today was built during the rule of Sa'di Sultan Sidi Abdallah al-Ghalib in the Marinid style.
1. The student reception center
It marked its time, and is still today one of the most important monuments of Morocco in general and Marrakech in particular. A real home for students thirsty for knowledge in various sciences, the Ben Youssef Madrassa (School in Arabic) was both a Koranic university and a university residence. Built in honor of Sultan Abu al-Hassan, this building is characterized by the diversity of its decor and colors which make it one of the most visited in the city of the Seven Saints. This Koranic school is located in the heart of the medina, near the Ben Youssef mosque, from which it takes its name.
2. The organization of the buildings
Ben Yousssef madrassa is arranged around a central courtyard with a square shape, with a rectangular basin in the center with two water outlets. This courtyard is surrounded by two "Riwaqs" which are supported by important pillars by means of cedar lintels. Surrounding the courtyard, the prayer hall rests on four marble columns. The Madrassa contains 132 rooms, on the ground floor and upstairs. It also has an ablution room set up around a basin and a series of latrines that line the three sides of the ablution room.
3. An original work of art
From the courtyard to the interior of the rooms, beauty awakens the senses. Indeed, Ben Youssef draws its strength from an architecture of great coherence, as well as from the diversity of materials used in its construction. The courtyard is a marvel of carved facades typical of Andalusian Moorish art. Zelliges, plasters and cedar follow one another starting from the ground, chiseled with floral motifs and verses from the Koran. The interior of the rooms is admirable for the ceiling, the dome and the plaster and stucco lace walls. The colors are soft with a predilection for blue, light brown, green, white and black.
4. A site open to visitors
Ben Yousssef was restored and renovated for the first time in 1950. However, at the end of the 1960s, abandoned, it was closed to the faithful who came there to pray and to the public. It is only since 1982 that restoration works have enabled tourists to discover this masterpiece of Moroccan art. Considered one of the largest of its kind in Morocco and in North Africa, the Madrassa, is experiencing a large influx from Moroccan and foreign visitors who come to discover and admire all the beauty of Arab-Andalusian art.
5. Access it easily
You have various possibilities to join this great Koranic school. You can access the Ben Youssef Madrassa along the Ben Youssef mosque or, when you come from the souks, by crossing Bab Kcheiria or Bab Talar. It's also very simple if you choose to walk there, leaving the east of the city, through Bab Debbagh, the tanning district. From Place Moukef, follow the main street. It will lead you to the entrance to the Madrassa.