Kasbah Mosque

Mosque in Marrakesh

Kasbah Mosque
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Yastay

The Kasbah Mosque is a historic mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. It was originally built by the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansour in 1185-1190 CE. It is located in the Kasbah district, the city’s former citadel, near the site of its historic royal palaces. Along with the Kutubiyya Mosque, it is one of the most important historic mosques in Marrakesh.

Where is the the Kasbah Mosque Located

The mosque is in the old kasbah district of Marrakech and is located not far from the El-Badi Palace and from the current Royal Palace still used by the Moroccan king today. It is flanked by Place Moulay el Yazid on its eastern side. Most notably, on the southern side of the mosque are located the Saadian Tombs, a narrow necropolis with ornate mausoleums that housed the tombs of the Saadi Dynasty and now a major tourist attraction in Marrakech. The mosque is also very close to the city walls and to Bab Agnaou, one of the most notable gates in Marrakech.

Visiting the Kasbah Mosque

Today, the mosque is still in use for prayer and non-Muslims are not permitted to enter inside (as with other mosques in Morocco).

History of the Kasbah Mosque

Construction of the mosque was probably begun around 1185 and finished by 1190 (CE), at the apogee of the Almohad Empire. It was commissioned by the Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansour (ruled 1184–1199) as part of the newly created imperial kasbah (citadel) district which was to be the residence of the Almohad Caliph and the seat of government. This followed with a long tradition of rulers in the Islamic world (and beyond) who built palace-cities or separate royal districts. The Kasbah Mosque was built to be the congregational mosque for the caliph and for this royal district, where the ruler would go to attend prayers.

Even after al-Mansour and after the Almohad Empire had gone, the Kasbah Mosque was held in high esteem by the general population and subsequent rulers, and even competed with the Kutubiyya Mosque for prestige. As early as the Marinid era, rulers and important figures began to be buried in a cemetery just to the south of the mosque, eventually becoming the site of the Saadian dynasty’s royal necropolis (referred to as the Saadian Tombs today).

In the late 16th century the mosque was severely damaged by an enormous explosion at a nearby gunpowder store. The exact date of the event is not certain, with the earliest estimation being 1562 while the latest it could have happened was in 1573-1574. In any case, the Saadi sultan Moulay Abd Allah al-Ghalib (ruled 1557-1574) undertook extensive repairs and restorations in the wake of the explosion, with the southern part of the mosque having possibly been the most damaged Scholars have traditionally supposed that the repairs and reconstruction of this period preserved the original Almohad design, although the stucco decoration visible inside the mosque today is most likely entirely Saadian and replaced whatever decoration would have existed earlier.A more recent study by Íñigo Almela Legorburu argues that the Saadian reconstruction likely enacted some significant changes to the mosque’s internal configuration, resulting in its current layout. Even after these repairs, long cracks in the minaret remained visible up until the 20th century.

Later, the Alaouite sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah (ruled 1757-1790) undertook another round of extensive restorations during the second half of the 18th century. The wooden cupola at the central entrance to the prayer hall from the courtyard dates from this time, as may other elements. Despite this, it still appears that these later sultans faithfully preserved the form of the original mosque, which may be an indication of the esteem in which it was held.

On August 16, 1907, days after the French bombardment of Casablanca and invasion of the Shawiya plains, a group led by Madani El Glawi [ar] gathered at the mosque to pledge allegiance to Abdelhafid as their sultan over his brother Abdelaziz in the Hafidiya.


The Kasbah Mosque appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Marrakesh!

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Visiting Kasbah Mosque

Address: Koutoubia, جامع الكتبية،، Avenue Mohammed V،، Marrakesh, Morocco
Duration: 20 minutes

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