Kairaouine Mosque and University, Fes

Kairaouine Mosque and University, Fes (must see)

The Kairaouine complex (pronounced "kare-a-ween") is a sight to behold, yet for non-Muslims, it often remains shrouded in mystery. One of the main entrances is at the end of the Talâa Kbira, offering a glimpse of the vast courtyard inside, although it may not fully convey the immense size of this complex. Muslims are welcomed inside for prayer and to explore the university grounds, though classes may be in session at times. It's common for worshippers to guide Muslim visitors around, showcasing the marvels of this truly remarkable structure.

Founded in 857 by Fatima al-Fihri, daughter of a wealthy refugee from Tunisia, the mosque has undergone several expansions and renovations over the centuries. The most significant expansion occurred in the 12th century under the Almoravids, who enlarged the prayer halls and footprint of the mosque to accommodate up to 22,000 worshippers.

Adjacent to the mosque, the Kairaouine University, sometimes touted as the oldest university globally, was initially established as a "medersa" alongside the mosque. While it wasn't officially recognized as a university until it joined Morocco's state educational system in 1963, UNESCO acknowledges it as the oldest continuously operating educational institution in the world, far ahead of those in Europe.

Venturing into the heart of the old Medina to catch a glimpse of this legendary institution is well worth it, following which you can pause for a quick bowl of bissara to recharge. While non-Muslims may have restricted access, they can still appreciate the traditional courtyard with its washing area (reserved for men) and the prayer area. The mixture of indoor and outdoor spaces make the complex truly amazing.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Fes. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Kairaouine Mosque and University on Map

Sight Name: Kairaouine Mosque and University
Sight Location: Fes, Morocco (See walking tours in Fes)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Fes, Morocco

Create Your Own Walk in Fes

Create Your Own Walk in Fes

Creating your own self-guided walk in Fes is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Fes Old Town Walking Tour

Fes Old Town Walking Tour

North and west of the fabled Atlas Mountains of North Africa is the ancient city of Fes, or Fez. It is centered on the Fes River.

In the year 789 Idris I founded the city and the Idrisid dynasty. The city was two settlements on either side of the river. In the 11th century, Sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin established Almoravid rule. He united the settlements into Fes el-Bali. The Almoravids were...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Fes New Town Walking Tour

Fes New Town Walking Tour

Created by the French in the early 20th century, Ville Nouvelle (New Town) is a relatively modern central district of Fez. A far cry from the sensory overload provided by the old Medina, this neighborhood was originally designed to accommodate foreigners and affluent Moroccans only.

Still, Fez's Ville Nouvelle is as much 'real' Morocco as any donkey-packed lane in the old city....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles