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Mosque Name: Koutoubia Mosque

Country: Morocco

City: Marrakech

Year of construction (AH): 548

Year of construction (AD): 1154

GPS: 31.623757 -7.993366


Gibson Classification: Parallel

Rebuilt facing Mecca: never


The Kutubiyya Mosque that stands in Marrakech today is actually two very similar mosques built on the same site by the Almohad ruler Abd-al-Mu’min in the twelfth century. While there are no exact dates available for the periods of construction of the two mosques, the sequence of events has been loosely reconstructed based on contemporary texts. After capturing the city of Marrakech in the wake of the death of Almoravid leader Ali bin Yusuf in 1147 (541 AH), Abd-al-Mu’min built the first mosque on the site of Ali bin Yusuf’s former palace Construction began in the years between 1147 (541) and 1154 (548 AH) and concluded by 1157.

The second mosque was started after 1154 (548 AH), and was at least partially constructed by September 1158 (552) AH, when the first prayers were said there. Construction of the second Kutubiyya most likely concluded by 1162 (557 AH) although one text writes that it was only fully completed during the reign of Abd-al-Mu’min’s grandson Abu Yusuf Ya’qub al-Mansur in 1190 (585 AH).

Some scholars contend that the second mosque was built to correct the inaccurate qibla orientation of the first mosque. Others argue that perhaps Marrakech’s growing population merited an expansion of the original Kutubiyya mosque to accommodate more worshipers. A third view attributes the second construction to the desire of Abd-al-Mu’min to commission as many public buildings as he could into order to create an impressive personal legacy as a great builder. No matter what the actual motivation was for the doubling of the original mosque, the second mosque was not built specifically to replace the first mosque, as there was a period of at least thirty years in which two Kutubiyya mosques shared the site. It was only long after the construction of the second Kutubiyya mosque that the first mosque was ruined.

Below you can see the older mosque (above the newer mosque) It has no roof so you can see the columns. The difference between the qiblas is noticeable. 154 (old) versus 159 (new) Dan Gibson has classified both of these mosques as Parallel. Obviously there was some difference in choice of actual alignment which can be seen in the Qibla Tool. Also note the graveyard in the upper left corner also has a similar Qibla

The Kutubiya mosque is lower center, above it the old mosque, and in the top left corner the graveyard.

The Kutubiya mosque is lower center, above it the old mosque, and in the top left corner the graveyard.

The older mosque is in the foreground

The older mosque is in the foreground

Floorplan for the newer mosque

Floorplan for the newer mosque

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