Travel to Marrakech

Day 2 Tanners quarter and Ben Youssef Medrassa

Marrakech


 

We start the day visiting the tanners quarter, situaded in one of the edges of the Medina due their bad smell. We walk through the medina (guided between their streets by a local that ask us for some money) until the tanneries. An easy way to arrive there is going outside the walls and entry by Bab Debbagh door.

Marrakech - Tanners quarter
Tanners quarter

In the tanneries you can observe the process of tanning and drying skin. The process involves tanners treading and rinsing skin in large vats of dye and pigeon dung, while other artisans scrap and stretch the skins to dry. The tanneries are very similar to the ones in Fez, although they are more scattered making it less of an interesting experience.

Marrakech - Ben Youssef Medrassa
Ben Youssef Medrassa

The best time to visit is in the mornings, when there is most activity. To get a good view of the proceedings, use of one the shops with terraces overlooking the tanneries. We were given a sprig of mint to help cope with the smell which was understandable seeing some of these pits contained just pigeon poo.

Marrakech - Ben Youssef Medrassa
Ben Youssef Medrassa

The Ben Youssef Madrasa was an Islamic college , named after the amoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. It is the largest Medrasa in all of Morocco. The college was founded during the period of the Marinid (14th century) by the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hassan and allied to the neighbouring Ben Youssef Mosque. The building of the madrasa was re-constructed by the Saadian Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557–1574).

Marrakech - Ben Youssef Medrassa
Ben Youssef Medrassa

In the center of the madrasa provides a large courtyard with a central pool ablutions. The buildings are made of cedar wood with stucco and colorful tiles. The prayer room has one of the most exuberant of all decorations, using pineapples and palm trees to decorate the mihrab. In 1565 the works ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib were finished, as confirmed by the inscription in the prayer room. Its 130 student dormitory cells cluster around a courtyard richly carved in cedar, marble and stucco.

Marrakech - Ben Youssef Medrassa
Ben Youssef Medrassa

The carvings contain no representation of humans or animals as required by Islam, and consist entirely of inscriptions and geometric patterns. This madrasa was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa and may have housed as many as 900 students. One of its best known teachers was Mohammed al-Ifrani (1670-1745).. Closed down in 1960, the building was refurbished and reopened to the public as an historical site in 1982.



 

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Marrakech