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Minaret of Koutoubia mosque, Marrakesh (Morocco, 1100s AD)

Minaret of Koutoubia mosque, Marrakesh (Morocco, 1100s AD)

Almohads built a lot of buildings

When the Almohads first conquered Morocco and Spain from the Almovarids in the 1100s AD, they showed their strength by building monuments in the cities of their new empire. They built this mosque right over the top of the old Almovarid palace in Marrakesh!

Who were the Almohads?
And the Almovarids?
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Almohads loved their minarets!

Also, the Almoravids had not allowed people to build minarets, which they thought were wrong, so the Almohads built lots of minarets to show that things had changed. An architect named Jabir designed the Koutoubia minaret. (Compare this minaret to the Romanesque bell tower of St. Germain des Pres in Paris, which was built about a hundred years earlier). Other people soon copied the Almohad minarets, like the people of Pisa, who built the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

What’s a minaret?
St. Germain des Pres
Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Giralda in Seville (1184 AD)

The Giralda in Seville (1184 AD)

Jabir, who designed the Koutoubia minaret, also designed minarets in many other places, like Seville in southern Spain. Most of this minaret is Almohad (though Christians added the very top part in the 1300s). The tower has no stairs; instead it has ramps inside it, wide enough so that the muezzin (the man who sang the call to prayer) could ride a horse up all the ramps to the top.

Medieval African architecture
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People sometimes say that the Giralda was the tallest building in the world at that time, but actually the Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria was probably considerably taller, and it was still standing until about 1310 AD.

Learn by doing: check out a church tower or minaret near your house. Is it the same as these? Why or why not?
Nasrid architecture

Bibliography and further reading about Almohad architecture:

Nasrid architecture
Ottoman Architecture
More Islamic architecture
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