Ben Youssef Madrasa
Marrakech, Morocco | www.medersa–ben–youssef.com
“You who enter my door, may your highest hopes be exceeded” reads an inscription over the entrance to the Ben Youssef Madrasa. Once a Quranic college, the largest in North Africa, the blessing immediately works its charm on us as we enter through the cedar gates. The cool air within the dimmed corridor soothes our senses from the bustling chaos of the Medina. We take a moment to reset and prepare ourselves for what awaits deeper within.
As we manoeuvrer our way through crowds of tourists, the path widens into the courtyard. We stumbling through cedar carved doors, adjusting our eyes to the Moroccan sun reflecting on the mosaic tiles. We smile. Our highest hopes have been exceeded.
Founded in the 14th century, the Madrasa was once the home to over 900 students until it was refurbished and reopened to the public as an historical site in 1982. The courtyard is an oasis in the heart of the Medina intricately embellished with five colour zellij mosaic walls, stucco archways and cedar windows. The ornate and winding carvings of Arabic inscriptions generously designed around the courtyard also fit harmoniously with the surrounding artistry. Even amongst the crowds of tourists furiously photographing every nook and corner of the building (us included), the courtyard maintains a constant level of serenity. We spend little over an hour exploring the Madrasa and its 132 dormitories scattered around the courtyard and leave back through the cool corridor taking with us a spiritual connection with a site which once was a centre of learning and curiosity.
Tips for Wanderlusters
Ben Youssef Madrasa is in the heart of the Medina and only accessible by foot through winding sun soaked streets. It is a perfect place to visit for anyone in search of some authentic Moorish architecture. The Madrasa is conveniently located next to the Souk and 10 minutes away from the Museum of Marrakech so why not combine your trip with these beautiful Marrakech wonders. There is a 10dh entrance fee to the Madrasa so be sure to come with some small change as the friendly gatekeeper did not seem to have a credit card machine.
Silver metallic tailored blazer | River Island. Electric lady top coming soon to Harvey Nichols | Finders Keepers. Hazel maxi skirt | Gestuz. High heel slides | Stuart Weitzman. Akalis engraved single disc pendant necklace | iLoveDesigner.com.
Photography | Mariko Kuo and Form 42. Photo editing | Mariko Kuo. Art direction + layout | Mariko Kuo.