viernes, 30 de enero de 2015

Fez & its Islamic Attractions: madrasas & mosques

The most mystical of Morocco's imperial cities, Fez was founded in AD 808 by the Moroccan ruler saint Moulay Idris II and under his rule became the capital and spiritual center of Morocco. 
The city is situated in a narrow valley against the backdrop of the Middle Atlas, and positioned on the old crossroads of caravan routes connecting the Saharan empires like Timbuktu and Takrur with the Atlantic and the Mediterranean shipping lanes. 
Due to this, Fez has remained a commercial centre for much of its history. Today it is still considered Morocco's premier religious city by virtue of its Islamic traditions.
In 1250 Fes regained its capital status under the Marinid dynasty. The principal monuments in the medina, the residences and public buildings, date from the Marinid period. The madrasas are a hallmark of Marinid architecture, with its striking blending of Andalusian and Almohad traditions. Between 1271 and 1357 seven madrassas were built in Fes, the style of which has come to be typical of Fassi architecture.

You can visit this city in our tour Spain & Morocco of  10days / nights

Madrasa Bou Inania

he Madrasa Bou Inania was built between 1350 and 1357 by the Merenid sultan Bou Inan. The Madrasa (madrassa - Islamic school of learning) is a sumptuous architectural gem and one of Morocco's most gorgeous buildings. 

Up until the 1960s this was still a functioning theological school and the restoration efforts since that time have restored it to its original beauty. 

The carved woodwork is magnificent and the rooftop offers a spectacular view of Fes.



Madrasa el-Attarine

Another example of fine Merenid architecture, the Madrasa el-Attarine was built in 1325 by Abu Said.

The courtyard here is a wonderful display of the intricate decoration from this period, with elaborate zellige tile-work and cedar woodcarvings.

The upper floor is made up of a warren of cells, which were once home to students of the Qaraouiyine University (now mosque). If you climb up to the rooftop you can get great views of the Qaraouiyine Mosque itself.




Bab Chorfa and Bab Boujiloud

The grand gates of Bab Chorfa and Bab Boujiloud mark the main entry into Fes el Bali (Old City). As you approach, them you get wonderful views of the neighbourhood's famed landmark: the minaret of the Madrasa Bou Inania, which sits just after the Bab Boujiloud gate .



Fes el Bali (Old City)

Fes el Bali is the city's oldest neighbourhood and, within its rambling streets, there are two distinctly different districts divided by a meandering river. 

The left bank is home to the most historic monuments and the majority of the shopping souks, while the right bank may be scruffier but is full of local life and photogenic alleyways. 

The entire Old City is a walker's delight with plenty of opportunities to explore and soak up the atmosphere of Fes life. 

The Old City is thought to be one of the largest surviving of its type in the world.


Qaraouiyine Mosque

Built in 857 AD by Tunisian immigrants from the holy city of Kairouan, the Qaraouiyine Mosque was one of the medieval period's most distinguished universities. 
 Today, in its function as a working mosque, it is one of Morocco's largest centres of worship with a prayer hall that can hold 20,000. 
The library is one of the oldest surviving in the world and contains over 30,000 books. 
Among the collection is a 9th century Qur'an


Souks District and Tanneries

For shoppers, Fes el-Bali is a paradise of local craft-work with colourful Moroccan slippers, leather-work, metalwork, rainbow-glass lamps and tiles all displayed at stalls throughout the district.

The streets just west of the Qaraouiyine Mosque have the greatest concentration of shopping opportunities. This is also where you'll find Fes' famous Chouara tannery.

Here you can watch the traditional dying of animal skins - the first step in making Morocco's many leather products.

Fes el Jedid

The Merenids built this "New City" in the 13th century when they realised that Fes el Bali would be too small to contain their palaces.

 The rather grand Royal Palace takes central stage here, and behind it mosques and medersas fill the host of lanes.

There's a tranquil air to this small section of the city, which sits between bustling Fes el Bali and the European-style Ville Nouvelle, and it makes a welcoming peaceful lull between these two faster-paced worlds.

Bou Jeloud Gardens and Batha Museum

The Boujiloud Gardens is home to the Batha Museum.

Located inside a Hispano-Moorish palace built in the late 19th century, this museum houses traditional Fes art like woodcarvings, wrought-iron work, embroidery, carpets and jewellery.

The centrepiece of the museum is the pottery room, where the famous Fes blue ceramics, coloured with cobalt, are featured.

Mosque of al-Andalusiyyin

Built in 1321, the Al-Andalus Mosque is noted for its prominent green and white minaret, which actually dates back to the 10th century. 

Nearby you'll find a variety of interesting other monuments including an old fondouk (khan or caravanserai) and the crumbling Madrasa al-Sahrij


Madrasa al-Sahrij

Madrasa al-Sahrij is one of two connected madrasas built near the Mosque of al-Andalusiyyin by the Marinid heir to the throne 'Ali b. 'Uthman II, Abu al-Hasan (r. 1331-1348). 

 Madrasa al-Sahrij was finished first in 1321/720 AH, and Madrasa al-Sebai'yin was completed two years later. Madrasa al-Sahrij was first known as al-Madrasa al-Kubra (the Great Madrasa), because it was larger than the other madrasas which were built at the same time. It came to be known later as the Sihrij Madrasa in reference to the large rectangular water basin (Arabic sihrij) that occupies the center of its patio.

The plan follows the ubiquitous model of Marinid madrasas in Fez: a rectangular court is surrounded on its lateral sides by galleries giving onto student rooms, and a wide but shallow prayer hall.

The central courtyard is lavishly decorated with carved stucco, glazed tiles, and carved cedar wood, characteristic of the Marinid translation of Nasrid palatial materials and techniques into a religious context. 

The contrast between sumptuous ornament in the courtyard and the spartan accommodations for the students in all of the Marinid madrasas may reflect the multiple functions of these buildings. 

The madrasas often served as mosques for their respective quarters and as settings for official ceremonies. With the addition of associated charitable functions like guesthouses and waqfs, or endowed properties which supported the madrasa's upkeep, to their primary role as religious schools, the madrasas functioned as important centers of community life. 

The courtyard, as the most public of the spaces within the madrasa, was therefore the focus of the ornament that would highlight the generous image of the madrasa's founder.



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