The beautiful 12th-century minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque is Marrakesh’s iconic landmark – and is visible for miles around. But the call to prayer rings out from a hundred other minarets across the city – watch out for storks’ nest adorning many of them. While non-Muslims are forbidden from entering Moroccan mosques, you can get a taste of their interior splendor by visiting one of the historic medersas (theological colleges). Most famous of all is the Ben Youssef medersa, a masterpiece confection of Moroccan architecture, with barely a square inch left undecorated.
While in Marrakech, Morocco, I made sure to see this local treasure: the Koutoubia Mosque. Built in the 12th century, it is evidence of the Moorish and Islamic influence the suffused Morocco and still does. The modern city bustles around it and yet there is still an ancient presence surrounding it. Listen for the different dialects and watch for the myriad cultures that make this ancient city what it is today.