Corte interna Medersa Ben Youssef

The Medersa Ben Youssef is simply one of those things that you must not miss during your stay in Marrakesh. It is an ancient Koranic school and one of Morocco’s rare religious monuments which is also open to non-Muslims, a remarkable example of the city’s Arabic-Andalusian architecture.
It was founded in the 14th century under the Merenidi dynasty and owes its splendour to the Saadi sultan Moulay Abdellah, also known as Abdallah el-Ghalib, “the most glorious Caliph”, as it is printed on a plaque at the entrance. He commissioned the medersa in the 16th century and since then it became one of the most famous examples in the Maghreb. During its golden age it peaked at a capacity of over 900 students. On the first floor you can still visit their small rooms, 132 cells, barely 3 square metres each, with windows facing the internal courtyard and views of the neighbouring Mosque’s green roof.
The Koranic school features a splendid internal courtyard: Carrara marble floors and basins, walls covered in decorations, balconies embellished with moucharabieh, carved calligraphy, stuccoes, mosaics… Arabic-Andalusian decorative art culminates in a profusion of zellij and details which may even seem excessive, but not here. Arabesque and other decorations continue for as far as the eye can see, overwhelming the admirers of these masterpieces. Its decorative exuberance is tempered by the exquisite refinement of its delicate palette. The pale pink of columns, pearl white and dove-grey stuccoes, the soft tonalities of cedar wood… a truly unmissable sight!