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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Historic Koutoubia Mosque severely damaged in Morocco earthquake

Another cherished site affected by the earthquake is the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakesh. Situated in the southwest medina quarter near the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa market, this mosque is flanked by expansive gardens.

The powerful earthquake that struck Morocco late Friday night, has severely damaged historic Koutoubia Mosque with a magnitude of 6.8. The earthquake has left not only a devastating human toll but has also caused significant damage to some of the country’s most cherished historic sites, including the historic city of Marrkech, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Among the affected landmarks, the Tinmel Mosque, a renowned historical site, suffered substantial damage. Images circulating on social media show a broken wall and large piles of debris at this earth-and-stone mosque located in the High Atlas mountains.

The Tinmel Mosque holds great historical significance, as it was founded in 1147 by the Almohad caliph Abd al-Mu’min right after he conquered Marrakesh from the Almoravids. A second version of the mosque, rebuilt around 1158 and likely completed by Ya’qub al-Mansur around 1195, stands today.

This mosque is considered a classic example of Almohad architecture and Moroccan mosque design. The prominent minaret tower, soaring to a height of 77 meters (253 feet), is adorned with intricate geometric arch motifs and crowned with a spire and metal orbs. It is not only a symbol of historical significance but also an important landmark in Marrakesh.

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Another cherished site affected by the earthquake is the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Marrakesh. Situated in the southwest medina quarter near the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa market, this mosque is flanked by expansive gardens. Founded in 1147 by Abd al-Mu’min, it was entirely rebuilt around 1158. The minaret tower, a soaring structure standing at 77 meters (253 feet), is a masterpiece of Almohad and Moroccan mosque architecture. It is adorned with intricate geometric designs and has inspired similar structures, including the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. The Koutoubia Mosque is not only a place of worship but also a cultural treasure and a symbol of Marrakesh.

Additionally, the earthquake has had a significant impact on the Walls of Marrakesh, a historic defensive rampart that encloses the city’s medina districts. Originally laid out by the Almoravid dynasty in the early 12th century, the walls have witnessed numerous expansions and modifications throughout history, reflecting the city’s evolution. The Kasbah, added to the south at the end of the 12th century, and the northern neighborhood around the Zawiya of Sidi Bel Abbes have been incorporated into the fortifications over time.

While reports on the extent of damage to these historic sites are still emerging, the earthquake has unquestionably taken a toll on Morocco’s cultural heritage. This catastrophe underscores the urgent need for efforts to preserve and restore these invaluable landmarks. As Morocco mourns the loss of lives and grapples with the aftermath of this disaster, the world joins in solidarity with the nation during this challenging time.