The Koutoubia mosque is the largest in Marrakech and located just next to the main square, Place Jemaa el Fna’. It derives its name from the Arabic for books “kutub” as there was formerly a book market nearby – way back in 1150. The tower is almost 70 m high and serves as a useful landmark for tourists.
The design of the minaret was highly influential and you see many other mosques with a similar design, most notably the Hassan minaret in Rabat and the La Giralda in Seville, Spain.
The minaret has three copper balls of decreasing size topped by a pointed one at the pinnacle (like one of Hershey’s kisses); legend has it that this was a gift from Saadian ruler Yacoub el Mansour’s wife as an offering for breaking her fast for three hours during Ramadan.
One of the top ten places to visit in Marrakech – unfortunately if you are not Muslim you cannot go inside, but there are very pleasant gardens to stroll in around the outside.
While we thoroughly recommend getting into the souk and shopping for your own carefully sourced rug, we have to admit that we are rather taken with Kulchi, an Australian-owned company who have a showroom in Marrakech (appointment only, +212 (0) 639 221 259).
Owned by Cassandra Karinsky, who has lived and experienced Morocco over the past six years, she first designed her own kaftan range before moving into the world of interiors. Today, with a colleague, she sources the finest quality –and original- carpets and mats from trusted sources.
Also, as well as textiles, furniture and rugs Kulchi works with Patrick Manac’h in Marrakech to sell prints of his collection of images of Moroccan daily life – dating back to the 1870’s. They are available on semi-gloss in sepia or black and white, a great gift for anyone with a love of Morocco.
Kulchi (meaning ‘everything’ in Arabic) is also a great resource if you get home and decide you want to commission your own carpet or if you, like us, admire Cassandra’s chic taste.