A jewel of Arab-Andalusian architecture, the Ben Youssef Madrasa is one of the most visited and appreciated monuments of the imperial city. It is located at the heart of the Medina, a few minutes away from the souks of Marrakesh. It is an ancient school of the Koran that owes its name to sultan from the Berber dynasty of the Almoravids. The building, which extends over an area greater than 16,150 sq ft, is an impressive masterpiece that you will be able to visit during your stay in Marrakesh.
A “university campus”
The Ben Youssef Madrasa was built in 1565, under the initiative of the Saadi sultan, Abedellah Al Ghalib. For over four centuries, it was an important place of study, and above all a home away from home for the students coming from the four corners of Morocco. The science and theology courses would indeed take place at the nearest mosque. It was a “university campus” of sorts, where students lived, ate, studied and prayed. It is no longer active since 1956.
The Ben Youseff Madrasa is richly decorated with marble, cedar wood from the Atlas, engraved stucco and zellige (terra cotta tile work). Its structure of perfect proportions is built on two levels. It holds 132 rooms, in addition to a prayer room and an ablution room, and it is structured around the main patio, which is embellished by a long rectangular basin of white marble.
A couple of restorations in 1950 and in 2000 by the Omar Ben Jelloun association fully restored its magnificence.