Over the time Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in the city , has become a symbol of Marrakesh. Its construction was decided in 1158 by the sultan Almohades Abdel Moumen soon after his conquest of Marrakech. It was completed in 1199 with the construction of its famous minaret ordered by the sultan’s grandson, Yacoub el-Mansour.
Koutoubia, literally the “Booksellers Mosque” in Arab, is named after the large number of sellers of books and manuscripts that set up their stalls in the immediate vicinity of the building from the 12th century.
It is considered the ultimate structure of its kind. The tower is 69 m (221 ft) in height and has a lateral length of 12.8 m (41 ft). Six rooms (one above the other) constitute the interior. It is built in a traditional Almohad style and the tower is adorned with four copper globes. According to legend, the globes were originally made of pure gold, and there were once supposed to have been only three globes.
The tower of the Koutoubia Mosque can be seen from the Djemma el Fna, the main square of Marrakech, but for the best views visitors are advised to view the tower from the beautiful rose garden just west of the Koutoubia Mosque. It is a wonderfully preserved historical structure, a perfect example of the Almohad architectural style and a noteworthy attraction in Marrakech.
Koutoubia’s minaret went on to inspire the architects of the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. This square tower in finely-worked dressed stone is 77 meters tall, including its lantern. An internal stairway enables to climb up to halls covered with domes, and to the top. The upper façades of the Koutoubia minaret are decorated with ceramic tiles forming different patterns on each side.
Mosques are a place of worship for people who practice the Islam religion and worshipers come to the mosque five times a day to pray. The prayer hall in the Koutoubia Mosque can accommodate 25 thousand worshipers and is a staggering 54 square meters in size. The pulpit in the mosque is believed to have originated in Cordoba and was donated to the mosque by Sultan Al Ben Youssef. Only Muslims are allowed access to the mosque. Western tourists may simply admire the minaret and may catch a brief glimpse of the beauty of the Koutoubia mosque through the entrance door.