Kairaouine Mosque (Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin)
With a capacity for 20,000 worshippers, a library packed with precious manuscripts, and a student body from across the Islamic world, the Kairaouine Mosque and university is a must-see on any tour of the Medina of Fez. As with all Moroccan mosques, however, only Muslims are allowed to pass through the doors and admire its austere white archways, delicate woodwork, and elegant but restrained calligraphy. While a stop at the Kairaouine Mosque is common on Fez medina walking tours, non-Muslims should look for a tour that includes a rooftop visit to soak up the view.
Things to know before you go
- Muslim women are welcome both to enter the mosque and to apply to study at the university. In fact, it was a woman who originally founded it.
- Back carriers are a better choice than strollers for parents visiting Fez.
- The Medina of Fez is hilly with narrow, often cobbled streets. Travelers who rely on wheelchairs should visit with a specialist operator.
How to get there
The Kairaouine Mosque and university sit in the heart of the Medina of Fez, less than a 10-minute walk south of the Bab Guissa gate. Bus 10 runs to Bab Guissa from the train station.
When to get there
Observant Muslims will want to visit the Kairaouine Mosque for Friday prayers. Photographers should aim to be on a rooftop around the golden hour before sunset, when the green shows at its best.
Fez’s Finest Islamic Architecture
Some of Fez’s most beautiful works of Islamic architecture, including the Kairaouine Mosque and Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, are open only to Muslims. But all travelers can discover the joy of zellige tilework, filigree woodwork, and art made without representing the human form at the Bou Inania Medersa, a 14th-century Islamic college, and the Al-Attarine Madrasa (Medersa el-Attarine), a medieval religious high school.
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- Royal Palace of Fez (Fes Dar el-Makhzen)
- Fez Mellah (Jewish Quarter)
- Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
- Dar Batha Museum
- Bab Bou Jeloud (Bab Boujeloud)
- Nejjarine Square (Place Nejjarine)
- Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts (Musée Nejjarine)
- Al-Attarine Madrasa
- Medina of Fez (Fes el-Bali)
- Moulay Idriss