Marrakesh, Morocco

Detail of decoration in the Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakesh. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Founded in 1070 by the Almoravids, the southern Moroccan city of Marrakesh was once an important political and cultural center, with influence throughout the western Muslim world. Today, Marrakesh plays less of a political role but it remains the most popular destination for visitors to Morocco. In addition to the souks, the famous Place Jamaâ El Fna with its snake charmers, and the enchanting "red city" itself, Marrakesh retains several impressive monuments from its illustrious history. Many of these are religious sites, the most notable of which include the Koutoubia Mosque with its classic minaret, the magnificently decorated Ben Youssef Medersa, the colorfully tiled and carved Saadian Tombs, the ancient Almoravid Koubba and the tombs of the Seven Saints that still attract pilgrims.

Ben Youssef Medersa
Probably the most beautiful building in Marrakesh, this medieval Islamic school features intricate woodwork, stucco, and tiny student dormitories with balconies.
Almoravid Koubba
The oldest monument in Marrakesh (c.1100) and the only Almoravid building remaining in Morocco, this attractive domed structure was highly influential on Moroccan architecture.
Koutoubia Mosque
The largest mosque in Marrakesh, Koutoubia is famed for its monumental 12th-century minaret, which became the model for later Moroccan architecture.
Tomb of Sidi Abd al Aziz
This small mausoleum is one of the tombs of the Seven Men of Marrakesh, established as a pilgrimage circuit in the 17th century. Sidi Abd El Aziz was a theologian in Fes and died in 1508.
Saadian Tombs
This site next to the old kasbah was used for burials throughout the Saadian period (beginning 1557), then sealed up for centuries. It contains two mausoleums and nearly 200 tiled tombs of royals.