Saturday, April 23, 2016


A madrasa (also "madrassa," "medersa," and a host of other spellings) is a school or college used primarily for the teaching of the Islamic religion. It is not unusual for a madrasa to contain a mosque or to be attached to one. The Madrasa El Attarine in Fes was completed in 1325 (That's right, 167 years before Columbus) by the Marinids, a Berber dynasty that ruled Morocco and Southern Spain from the 13th through 15th centuries. 

The main court is flanked by classrooms, and the upper levels comprise the living quarters. The inner courtyard is decorated with impossibly detailed carved cedar and elegantly sculpted walls:

The long vertical lines draw the eye towards the emerald tile roof, which can be seen much better from the upper levels:

The ethereal mihrab is near the main entrance:

The ablution fountain in the center of the courtyard is fed by the Fes River.

I really love these punched-metal lights, and they were for sale everywhere but would probably have to be shipped rather than carried home. How would this look over the dining room table, dear?

The complex arabesques of the carved walls, ceilings, windows, and doors are more intricate than the finest tatted lace:

Close-ups of patterns remind me of M. C. Escher's symmetrical drawings:

The Madrasa El Attarine, like many structures in Morocco, is a Hike-n-Seek Heaven. Layered rooms give the illusion that the building goes on forever, and that the floor plan is more complex than it actually is:

Here's that beautiful Muhammad-green marble tile on the stairs, which lead up to the second floor, and there it is again in the chevron patterned-tile in the hallways that abut the residential quarters built for theology students:

Looking down from the third floor at one of the side courtyards:

More views from various crinkle-edged windows:

The sun, looking back at me through the window above, formed a perfect shadow replica of the grate on the window sill:

Wait! Is that the sultan appearing in yonder window??

Sultan Bob and his one-woman harem gaze at each other from either side of the courtyard:


  1. This was our first foray into Moroccan architecture and art. It just kept getting better.

  2. I really like the white tile designs I've seen in several of your and Bob's posts. Not the typical look I associate with these places.

  3. So beautiful! Love the photos of you and Bob at the end. Christmas Card!!