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The Koranic school was founded at the beginning of the 14th century by the Moroccan monarch Abu el Hassan. Only with the reign of the Saadians who enlarged and redecorated the building in 1570, Madrasa became the largest Islamic college in the Maghreb. Region. Up to 900 students would have lived there to study law and theology. The monarchy supported them by providing food and lodging – the kitchen, however, had to be done by the students themselves. Madrasa Ben Youssef was transformed into a museum in 1960 and, since its renovation in 1999, it is one of the most popular sites in Marrakech. The bronze doorway at the entrance of the college, adorned with beautiful cedarwood and mosaic carvings, is an impressive masterpiece of its time.

Through a passage, you reach the interior with its large, marble patio with a water basin artistically decorated in its center. The entire inner courtyard is lined with beautiful mosaics, and its walls and columns are adorned with exceptional sculptures and stuccoes. Enjoy a fabulous view of this masterpiece of oriental architecture from the second floor where you will also find college student rooms arranged around small courtyards and the large patio. Next to the patio, there is a prayer room characterized by three marble columns. Looking up, you can see the impressive dome – cleverly crafted from cedar wood with 24 small mosiac windows in it.

The medersa revolves around a large courtyard with a central pool for ablutions. The buildings are covered with an abundance of decorations: carved cedar wood, elegant stucco and colorful zellige tiles. Some elements of the medersa are remarkably similar to the Alhambra Palace in Granada, indicating that Andalusian artists were probably brought from Spain for the project. At the end of the courtyard is a large prayer room which contains the most elaborate decoration. The interior is covered with an abundance of patterns of pine cones and palm trees, which are used around the mihrab to create a three-dimensional appearance. Throughout the Madrasa, there are many Arabic inscriptions in stucco and zelliges, the most common being the invocation of bismillah: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful”. Above the central courtyard are the tiny windows of the tiny student dormitories. The rooms are arranged around small courtyards lined with fine wooden balustrades. Nearly 900 students have been housed here, and it’s hard to imagine how they all snuck in. Through the staircase in the entrance vestibule, visitors can explore all the rooms and enjoy beautiful views of the courtyard.