Ben Youssef Medersa
Photo by Isidoro Ruiz / age fotostock
Morocco's Most Breathtaking Koranic SchoolInscribed above the door of the Ben Youssef Medersa in Marrakech reads the following: “You Who Enter My Door May Your Highest Hopes Be Exceeded.” It is an appropriate proclamation for what is arguably the most mind-blowing example of Islamic design and architecture within a Koranic school anywhere in the country. Founded in the 14th century, it was embellished by the Saadian dynasty in 1570 with an ornate bronze doorway, elegant stuccoes, and a marble-tiled patio lined with elaborate mosaics. The prayer room, with its palm and pine cone motifs, looks down into the courtyard from the students’ quarters and gives a splendid helicopter view of the space. During its heyday, the medersa had room for up to 900 students; it was given over to the city as a museum in the 1960s and has remained so ever since.