The Almoravid Koubba

Just south of the Ben Youssef Mosque, this small shrine is the oldest monument in Marrakech.

TravelCurious Tip

The Museum of Marrakech is very nearby and can give you a much fuller picture of Marrakech’s history over the centuries, including the reign of the Almoravids

The Almoravid Koubba dates from the 12th century and is the only remaining example of Almoravid architecture in Marrakech. The Almoravids were a Berber imperial dynasty which formed an empire that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. They were instrumental in rebuffing the Iberian Christian kingdoms but then fell at the height of their power when they failed to quell a rebellion at home.

The Almoravid Koubba is all that remains, and it was only excavated in 1952. As the ground level has risen in Marrakech over the last thousand years, you must descend two flights of stairs to reach its entrance. What you find once belonged to an Almoravid mosque. A dome sits atop a rectangular building and its interior is richly decorated with floral motifs, including pine cones, palms and acanthus leaves. It also bears some calligraphy, including the oldest inscription in cursive Maghrebi script to be found in North Africa.

The building shows the root of much Moroccan architectural style. The same floral motifs can be seen in the Ben Youssef Mosque, and it’s beautifully-shaped windows became the distinctive design of the Almohads and the Merenids. Moreover, the intricate rib design on the dome and the sophisticated interior support system set a defining example for later buildings. The Almoravid Koubba may have been a rather humble building in its time, but as a preserved fossil of the Marrakech’s past, it is unrivalled.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Marrakech
The Medina
Enclosed by ancient walls, the oldest quarter of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
A labyrinth of spices, food and eye-catching goods, these bustling markets are the colourful essence of Morocco.
Tagine is a traditional North African Berber dish, named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Communal Bread Ovens
Most homes in the medina don’t have the luxury of an oven, so bread is baked communally instead.
Ben Youssef Medersa
A koranic theological college, the Medersa is often labelled the most beautiful building in Marrakech - quite an accolade.
A Moroccan speciality, the meat and spices in tangia are traditionally slow-cooked for hours in a public oven.

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