Historic Almoravid Koubba

When walking into the prayer room, visitors will notice an inscription above the doorway that reads: “I was created for science and prayer, by the prince of the believers, descendant of the prophet, Abdallah, most glorious of all Caliphs. Pray for him when you enter the door, so that you may fulfill your highest hopes.” The Almoravid Koubba would probably not have been discovered if excavations did not take place in 1952, as it was buried under the expansions and rebuilding of the outbuildings of the Ben Youssef Mosque.

The Almoravids were warriors who spread their power firstly through their homeland, and then moved onto countries such as Morocco. Their empire grew to include the land of Mauritania all the way through to Algiers. They ruled these areas from 1062 to 1145, and it was during this time that the Ben Youssef Mosque was constructed by the Almoravid Dynasty. Located in Marrakech, adjacent to the Museum of Marrakech, which is forty meters away from the present day Mosque of Ben Youssef, what makes the Almoravid Koubba so unique and historically important is the fact that it is the only example in the city of Marrakech that survives to display Almoravid architecture.

While studying the excavation, scientist uncovered that it is more than likely that the dome was used as an ablution annex for visitors to the Ben Youssef Mosque, before entering the prayer room, as it has showers, faucets and toilets, and made use of revolutionary drainage systems. Even though the original mosque did not survive, it protected this architectural masterpiece. Not only is the exterior of the building fascinating due to it featuring this rare architectural style, but the interior is decorated with the greatest of detail.

The interior of the Almoravid Koubba has calligraphy and floral patterns, which include palms, leaves and pine cones, decorating the walls, and borders and frames were highlighted by epigraphic decorations. The Almoravids spared no expense when it came to décor, as they used cedar wood and marble to complete the Almoravid Koubba. Another breathtaking feature is found in the foundation of the structure where a rare Maghrebi inscription, in cursive, can be seen, and is the oldest inscription in this form, not only in Morocco, but in North Africa. It is one of the most significant attractions in Marrakech, and takes visitors on a visible journey back in time.