Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Sultan Abou el Hassan (original medersa); name unknown (minaret)
14th century (original medersa); 1939 (minaret)
Medersa Moulay Idriss, a quranic school, was constructed in the 14th century and is said to have been built with Roman materials taken from nearby Volubilis. However, its decidedly modern minaret was added in 1939 by a wealthy hajji1who was inspired by minarets from Mecca and the Arabian Gulf. The unique cylindrical minaret is the only one of its kind in Morocco and is decorated with green and white ceramic tiles which spell out sura (chapters) from the Qur’an in square Kufic2script.
We are following an elderly local who has offered to take us to one of the viewpoints over the town. Down a winding alleyway indistinguishable from the others, he points out the minaret in passing. I stop in my tracks: there, just above us, is the cylindrical minaret, its unusual shape reminding me of the round water towers which perch atop New York City’s buildings. The modern design is an unexpected and welcome contrast to the historical surroundings. But what will stick in my mind is the way the tiles glittered in the light, almost as if the sun were reading the words inscribed there.
Photo : Moulay Idriss, Morocco / May 2016
And . . .