The Kairaouine Mosque in Fes has a fascinating history. Built in 859 by the daughter of a wealthy merchant originating from Tunisia, this religious site has been the gathering point of the Muslim community over centuries.
In the early 9th century, the family of Fatima Al-Fihri decided to move from the Tunisian town of Kairouan to Fes. She and her sister Mariam were well-educated and religiously devoted. After the death of their father, they were left with a considerable wealth which Fatima vowed to use for the construction of a mosque in dedication of her home city and dedicated to serve the Tunisian community in the region. Fatima is said to have been an extraordinary woman with strong spirit and remarkable determination. Under her guidance, in the Fes medina, they built the Karaouine Mosque also known as Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque.
An intriguing fact is that the Mosque was under reconstruction in the 10th century during the rule of Abd Er Rahman III, the Caliph of Cordoba, and under the Almoravids during the 12th century. The long years of construction, reconstructions, and developments have left a specific architectural trace that is visible in every detail. There are various types of Moroccan woodcarvings, plasterwork and paintings.
The Kairaouine Mosque has two minarets- the original and the Burj an-Naffara. The original minaret is considered the oldest Islamic monument in Fes, dating from 956 and is one of the Islamic heritage sites. In the middle of the courtyard (sahn) is a large fountain and two smaller ones which construction was inspired by the Alhambra at Granada, Spain.
The Karaouine Mosque is the second largest mosque in Morocco after the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
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