The Almoravid Koubba

The Almoravid Koubba is next to the Museum of Marrakech and near to the mosque of Ben Youssef. It is the only remaining example of Almoravid architecture in Marrakech. It was built in 1117, was restructured in the sixteenth and nineteenth century, was rediscovered in 1948 and excavated in 1952, after having being buried beneath one of the outbuildings of the Ben Youssef Mosque. The dome was once used for ablutions before prayer. The interior is richly decorated with floral patterns (pine cones, palms and acanthus leaves) and calligraphy. The epigraphic decoration, which covers the frames and borders, is noteworthy for the fact that the foundation inscription is the oldest inscription in cursive Maghrebi script in North Africa. Materials used are marble and cedar wood. At the entrance and at the top of the prayer room is the inscription:

‚ÄúI was created for science and prayer, by the prince of the believers, descendant of the prophet, Abdallah, most glorious of all Caliphs. Pray for him when you enter the door, so that you may fulfill your highest hopes.‚ÄĚ

The inscription refers to the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, and gives hommage to Ali ibn Yusuf, the patron of the building.

The Almoravids were a Berber dynasty of Morocco, who formed an empire in the 11th-century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Their capital was Marrakesh, a city which they founded in 1062. The dynasty originated amongst the Berber tribes of the Sahara traversing the territory between southern Morocco, the Niger river and the Senegal river.

The Almoravids were crucial in avoiding a precipitated fall of Al-Andalus to the Iberian Christian kingdoms, when they decisively beat a coalition of the Castilian and Aragonese armies at the Battle of Sagrajas. This enabled them to control an empire that stretched 3,000 kilometers north to south. However, the rule of the dynasty was short-lived and the Almoravids fell -at the height of their power- when they failed to quell the Masmuda-led rebellion initiated by Ibn Tumart. As a result, their last king Ishaq ibn Ali was killed in Marrakesh in April 1147 C.E. by the Almohads who replaced them as a ruling dynasty both in Morocco and Al-Andalus.