Morocco: The Medersa Al-Attarine, Fès

dsc_1775A visit to the ancient medina of Fès should be near the top of any traveller to Morocco’s list of places to visit. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage sight and is considered one of the most extensive and best conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world.

The medina contains several medersas (also known as madrasas), a type of religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion, though this may not be the only subject studied. Those that are in use are not open to non-Muslims, but the Al-Attarine. near the Al-Qarawiyyin, can be visited.

The madrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. It was built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said in 1323-5 as an annexe to the nearby Kairaouine mosque.

The intricate decoration of the floors and walls is a wonder. It can be overwhelming, to the extent that you do not see the detail unless you focus on a small area, such as this pillar.


This is further illustrated in this courtyard, pleasingly open to the sky.


Only when you look at the detail, can you imagine how much dedication and effort has gone into the process.


The stained glass, at roof level, is also to be admired.


And another view of the fountain from a recess, together with a lantern that looks more like a spaceship.


Although a small building, the Medersa Al-Attarine is well worth a visit, one of many attractions in the medina.