Marrakech Medina – Founded by the Almoravids in the 11th Century

The Almoravids founded the Medina of Marrakech and built its walls in the 11th century. The Marrakech Medina is situated in the southwestern parts of Morocco near the Atlas Mountains, which extend for 2 400 kilometers. It is thought that the Medina's name 'Marrakech' originated from the Berber language.

During the Almoravidian period the Marrakech Medina prospered and became an economic, political and cultural center of Morocco. Abu Yacoub Youssef and Yacoub el Mansour, successors of Abd el-Mou’men, played an important role in restoring the capital to its former glory. In later years the Medina of Marrakech influenced the style of buildings in a number of towns because of its prominence.

The Almoravids built impressive monuments in Marrakech to represent their power and influence over the Muslim world. Some of these monuments include the Kasbah, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, gardens, Bandiâ Palace, battlements, Place Jamaâ El Fna, the monumental doors and the open-air theatre that can still be found today in the Medina of Marrakech.

The Koutoubiya Mosque was built under the direction of Abd el-Mou’men and is a wonderful example of Muslim architecture. The building had a 77-meter minaret, which is a slender turret that was connected to the mosque. The minaret was used by the muezzin to call during hours of prayer. The Marrakech Medina has a traditional market square that is among the biggest and busiest squares in Africa. Not only does the square in Marrakech have food stalls, but the local people are entertained by story-tellers, musicians, acrobats and dancers throughout the day.

Another attraction in the Marrakech Medina is the ‘seven saints’ or seven prominent figures whose tombs you can visit. Visitors from all over the world come and visit the tombs of people like Sidi Abu al-Qasim Al-Suhayli and Sidi Muhammad al-Jazuli. The city of Marrakech is the second biggest city in Morocco and has nearly one million people inhabiting it – most of whom are of Berber origin. There are also people of German, French, English, Swiss and Italian origin living in this lively city. Marrakech is a fascinating city to visit and its Medina is well worth a visit.

back to Heritage Sites