when was qarawiyyin library built

Receive a AUD$350 voucher towards your first small group tour. Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, opened its doors in 859. Many liken it to stepping back in time as travellers get lost amongst the labyrinthine sandstone walls of the world’s largest car-free urban space. Its sculpted dark wooden door stands almost hidden on the edge of a square where artisans hammer away at copper in a deafening din, delighting passing tourists. Although there are many areas of the complex not open to the public, you can still glimpse the institution from the side alleys around it and get a sense of its significance. ", There's a perfect beach for every week of the year. "I was lucky that it was a lady from the Ministry who heard of me. Morocco is a gateway: step through and discover a world of colour, diversity and wonder, unlike anything you have experienced before. She oversaw the construction, which included classrooms, a prayer hall, a library and a courtyard. In the early 9th century, they left Tunisia to settle in Fez, along with many other migrants. A librarian at al-Qarawiyyin in 1931 In the end, though, it was worth it to Chaouni to bring the library back to its former glory, and to make it accessible to the public for the first time. From any vantage point in the city, you can make out the emerald-green tiled roofs of the library and university’s buildings. "Hopefully, by digitizing, we can make some of these manuscripts available online, and spread the knowledge way beyond Fez and Morocco," she says. The courtyard was located to the west of the prayer hall, with the minaret standing in its middle adjoining the external wall[2]. He was forced to be a slave of the Pope, he freed him after a year after converting him to Christianity. After his studies, he journeyed to Fostat in Egypt and trained to become a physician, progressing to become to the official doctor of Saladin, the rule of Egypt. Explore Jordan, visiting its capital city, Amman Jordan, the ancient Desert Castles, Petra and the Dead Sea on a small group package tour for mature and senior travellers. Read on to learn more about this spiritual and cultural powerhouse and the role it has played in shaping the Fez we know today. The university was established in 859 and offered courses on the Qur’an and religious texts and Al-Fihri is thought to have attended lectures there in her later years. She wanted it to be a place people could visit and take in the history of Fez. Qarawiyyin library holds written wonders Friday 02/12/2016. In 1526, he completed what would be his finest work A Geographical Historie of Africa. Sure, this gender-thing exists in Morocco, but it's still changed immensely from when I was a young girl and the time of my mother.". All of those articles can be found here. To rescue the structure from further damage, she built an underground canal system to lead the water into the sewer. The Tunisian immigrant moved with her family to Fes in the mid 9th century. Join us on a 12-month journey to see them all. She integrated new and sustainable technologies, like solar panels, an updated gutter system and water collection for garden irrigation. This incredible city has a rich and vibrant history, from the oldest tanneries in the world, to the world’s oldest library in Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. The library was built in 1359 AD and houses some of the country’s precious artifacts, including important manuscripts considered to be among the earliest copies to be produced in Islamic history. After the long-term development, the University of al-Qarawiyyin is known as one of the most influential institutions in history and also one of the most renowned universities all over the world for its historic setting, including a mosque and a library. You'll have these narrow streets and find a small door that enters into an amazing courtyard.". The monk told Idris II that on the site their used to be a city called Zef and that one day, a man named Iris would ‘renew it, revive it from oblivion, make stand its ruins; and that its importance would be great, its destiny momentous’ (Marozzi 2019, p. 156). Over the years, the Qarawiyyin grew and quickly cemented its reputation as a centre of learning and culture. The task, then, was up to his son, Idris II. Fez’s location, and the landscapes that surrounded it, proved to be auspicious. Regarded by many as the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, Maimonides was born in Cordoba into a family of rabbinic scholars. Having developed a profound respect for education thanks to her family, Al-Fihri decided to put her money, as well as her time and dedication, into building an educational institution. When talking about other restoration attempts that had been carried out, Chaouni told CityLab ‘The internal organs needed work. The proximity of mountain ranges meant that the climate in Fez was considered more temperate than other parts of North Africa (though the it does still get very hot in summer!). Join our newsletter mailing list to gain exclusive access to special offers and promotions. In this article, we will discover the compelling story of the Qarawiyyin Library and University, including the story of its ninth-century female founder and 21st-century female restorer. In this article, we will discover the compelling story of the Qarawiyyin Library and University, ... Meknes and Rabat). "It was this extremely refined and unusual type of roof that was hidden away," she recalls. Women Get Stuff Done . Al-Fihri was married, but both her husband and father passed away shortly after the wedding. Over the centuries, rain water poured off the roof of the neighboring mosque and infiltrated the library. The complex is made up of a library, mosque and university, making the university the first degree-granting institution in the world. Fez was built by the first Muslim dynasty, the Idrissids in the late eight-century. This article was inspired in part by a chapter in Justin Marozzi’s book Islamic Empires: Fifteen Cities that Define a Civilisation entitled ‘Fez – the Athens of Africa’published by Allen Lane in 2019, as well as other articles linked throughout. Opened in 859, it is thought to be the world's oldest library, and the maze of rooms were closed off to all but a few scholars and students of the university where it was housed. Chaouni added a new lab to treat, preserve and digitize some of the oldest texts, which include a ninth-century Quran, written in Kufic (the oldest form of Arabic calligraphy) on camel skin. Al Fihri was born in Qayrawan, Tunisia to a wealthy merchant family. There is the opportunity to visit our Morocco, Jordan or Iran tours  before embarking on this tour of  Egypt. They are home to all of the world’s works and other forms of media, including films, CDs, videotapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, maps, e-books, audiobooks, and databases. Having grown up in Fez, Chaouni was thrilled to be asked by the Moroccan government to transform the complex, which had fallen into disrepair over the years and was suffering from a long list of architectural problems, exacerbated by the heart and humidity of the Moroccan climate, including broken tiles and a poor drainage system. In the 14th-century, the pioneering historian and historiographer Ibn Khaldun is thought to have studied at the Qarawiyyin University. It was surrounded by the forests of the Middle Atlas mountains as well as arable land where farmers grew fruit, cereals and olives and raised livestock. Al-Qarawiyyin library in Fez, Morocco opened in 1359 C.E., at the University of Al-Qarawiyyin (also the world's oldest, built in 859 C.E.). In the early 12th-century, under the Almoravid Dynasty, a large restoration project took place and the complex was enlarged, its surface area stretching to around 6000 square metres, according to Marozzi. Worth a visit FEZ - Nestled in a labyrinth of streets in the heart of Morocco's ancient city of Fez, stands the world's oldest working library. After completing his education in Fez, he travelled widely through North Africa but during a voyage through the Mediterranean he was captured by Christian pirates and presented to Pope Leo X as a gift. Some of the university’s most notable former students include: The Sephardic Jewish philosopher Moses ben Mamon, or Maimonides, studied at the Qarawiyyin in the 12th-century. Al-Fihri also pioneered the idea of creating a place where you would not just be educated but would also be granted a certificate to show your education had been complete. What she hadn't anticipated was the many secret nooks that lay behind boarded up walls and doors. Built by a Woman, Restored by a Woman; Qarawiyyin, Symbol of Female Endeavor The article is a tribute to the Fez-born architect, Aziza Chaouni, who fought to reopen the Qarawiyyin library to the public, the oldest library in the… In the past, the library was only accessible to scholars and students but Chaouni vigorously petitioned for part of the library to be open to the general public. Recently restored, the library is home to some incredible historical artefacts and offers a glimpse into the intricate and vibrant story of Fez, once the city of sultans. Some of the literary gems housed in the library include a ninth-century copy of the Qur’an, escribed on camel skin, a manuscript of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah and a manuscript by Averroes on Islamic jurisprudence. The al-Qarawiyyin library was built in 859, around the same time that the concept of zero was invented. Though the library isn't yet open to the public, it is expected to be in 2017. In Muqaddimah, Khaldun theorised why civilisations rise and fall without looking solely at divine factors. They were intelligent and pious women and rather than squandering away the money, they sought to invest it back into the community somehow. In a way, the library's interior had an added allure for Chaouni, who grew up hearing family stories about her great grandfather, who to Fez from his village on a donkey to study at the illustrious university, and who spent many hours studying in the reading room at al-Qarawiyyin Library. This is part of our collection of Morocco-related articles that we share as useful background information before you go on a Morocco tour with us, or to simply help you as you firm up your travel plans. I can't seem to find a clear answer online so hoping someone here may be able to clarify. The Qarawiyyin complex is home to over 4,000 historical books and ancient texts written by renowned scholars and thinkers over the centuries. Credited with founding oldest existing, continually operating and first degree-awarding educational institution, Fatima al-Fihri cuts a formidable figure in history. But modern life had taken a toll on the library, with its buildings falling into disrepair. It is said that Idris I decided that the capital Volubilis (now an excavated Berber city outside of Meknes) was too small a capital and sought something more lavish. Often described as ‘the man who invented modern history’ and ‘the father of philosophy’, the North-African historian is known for developing one of the first nonreligious philosophies of history in his ground-breaking work Muqaddimah. One standout discovery for her was a hidden room that had a 12th century cupola made with intricate lattice wood. Founded in 859, it’s the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries. Idris declares that he is that man and says he will reverse the name of the ancient city that once lay there. Libraries are centers of knowledge and learning around the world. After years of neglect, the library is undergoing extensive renovation as part of a renewal program that will restore the Medina, Fes’ walled pedestrian historic district built in the late 8th, early 9th century. Originally the mosque was built to be a medium size, about 30m long with four transversal aisles. Courtyard of Al Qarawiyyin Founded 12 centuries ago by Fatima al Fihri (AP photo Samia Errazouki) Since 2016, when the Moroccan public could finally see for themselves Aziza Chaouni’s restoration of Al-Qarawiyyin University’s ancient library, presses have printed hyperbolic headlines. The library was built in 1359 AD and houses some of the country’s precious artifacts, including important manuscripts considered to be among the earliest copies to be produced in Islamic history. The university compiled an excellent selection of manuscripts in various disciplines, which were kept at a library founded by the Marinid Sultan Abu-Annan in the eastern side of the courtyard in 750 AH (1349 CE) before being relocated, towards the end of 1000 AH (1591 CE), in its present location by the Saadid Emir Ahmed Al-Mansur .Among the most precious manuscripts in this library are volumes from the famous … When the library at Morocco’s al-Qarawiyyin University was first built in the 9th century, it was one of the world’s great centers for learning. The second is that the restoration of the library was enormously successful. Picture of books at the Qarawiyyin library — TRT World. The publication of this would see him established as one of the leading rabbinical thinkers of his time. These first libraries consisted of … Fez was built by the first Muslim dynasty, the Idrissids in the late eight-century. A curator inspects one of the oldest manuscripts found in al-Qarawiyyin Library. After excavating, Chaouni discovered what she described as a river running underneath the floors. The project of collecting manuscripts and housing scholars... See full answer below. Though the structural changes were, she admits, a major undertaking, they pale in comparison to the work she's done to bring the 9th century complex into the 21st century. "When you have books and water, it's a horrible recipe," she says. The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez isn’t just the oldest library in Africa. Over the next four years, Chaouni and her team worked hard to transform the remarkable institution into a place that reflected its glory. The University of Al-Qarawiyyin’s library is considered the oldest library … Situated inland in the north-east of Morocco, Fez is the oldest of the country’s four imperial cities (the others are Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat). The result was the multi-million pound restoration of Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, the oldest library in the world, which is due to reopen later this year. As well as the Qarawiyyin, there is much to admire in Fez, which is still seen as Morocco’s cultural capital. The al-Qarawiyyin Library has long been a source of fascination for residents in Fez, Morocco, as few of them have ever passed through its doors. Rich traditions and heritage are very much alive here, but there is also a paradoxical youthfulness to the culture that will draw you in. When her father died, many of Al-Fihri’s male relatives had passed away, which meant both Al-Fihri and her sister inherited a sizeable fortune. Until now, the privilege of using the library has been limited to scholars who need to seek formal permission, and authorities haven't decided yet whether to change that. The House of Wisdom was built throughout the the 8th century CE during the Abbasid Dynasty. The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez isn’t just the oldest library in Africa. When their father died, Fatima used her inheritance to create the library and mosque. A long challenge lay ahead of Chaouni with the last proper restoration project wrapping up decades earlier in the 1940s. She is quick to point out that though her gender presented challenges, they weren't unique to Morocco. But modern life had taken a toll on the library, with its buildings falling into disrepair. Making it modern, and making it open to the public -- and not just to researchers -- are the cornerstone of Chaouni's vision for al-Qarawiyyin. "It's probably the thing I'm most proud of," she says. If it was a man, he probably would have hired another man, one of his friends.". Engineers re-built foundations, installing a new sewage system; each tile of the building's iconic green roof was restored individually and painstakingly relayed. Ethiopia: Site of the Ark of the Covenant? The earliest libraries emerged not long after the first civilizations started keeping written records. Although the library was opened to the public in 839AD, a strict policy had been put in place, which restricted access to scholars only. It opened in 2002 and houses eight million books, four museums and a planetarium, amongst other state of the art facilities. Leo Africanus, also known as Ibn al Wazzan, was an Andalusian diplomat and Islamic scholar who studied at the university during the 16th-century. The Qarawiyyin also compiled a large selection of manuscripts that were kept at a library founded by the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1349. Founded in 859, it’s the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries. (CNN) — The al-Qarawiyyin Library has long been a source of fascination for residents in Fez, Morocco, as few of them have ever passed through its doors. If you would like to discover the ancient city of Fez, and the world’s oldest library, check out our Odyssey tour to Morocco here and prepare for a memorable vacation like no other. It can't be thought of as this mummy we need to preserve. Having over 4000 manuscripts, many of which date back to the 9th century. Given that a branch of the Fez River ran underneath the library’s floor, Chaouni constructed an underground canal that diverted the river. Her father left his wealth to both Fatima and her sister, his only children. all thanks to its founder—Fatima al-Fehri. The Moroccan government agreed and the library now has a wing open to the public, which features an exhibition room and a café. "We were always discovering things as we were ripping out walls," she says. Chaouni is the latest is a line of women that have shaped the library's history. It is not only a library that is open to the public, but is also as a modern day homage to the ancient Library of Alexandria. Al-Qarawiyyin library, built in 859 in Fez during the reign of Sul­tan Abou Inane Al Marini, contains priceless treasures. When it was first founded, Fez developed as two separate settlements on each bank of the Fez River. Our program takes us to contemporary feats such as the Aswan Dam and also to current crucibles of the Egyptian experience such as Tahrir Square. In 2012, the Moroccan-Canadian architect, Aziza Chaouni, was tasked with restoring the Qarawiyyin. When the library at Morocco’s al-Qarawiyyin University was first built in the 9th century, it was one of the world’s great centers for learning. The Al-Qarawiyyin library has been in continuous operation since the 10th century and is believed to be the oldest library in the world. You can put makeup on someone who is very ill, and they’ll look good for a few hours, but on the inside they’re still very sick, so it won’t last’. Marozzi describes him as ‘the most distinguished Qarawiyyin alumnus bar none’ (p. 153). "The heritage needs to live. The collection housed numerous works from the Maghreb, al-Andalus, and the Middle East. Legend has it that while Idris II was looking for a site he encountered a Christian monk (supposedly the monk was over 150 years old). When the Toronto-based architect and engineer stepped inside the building, however, she was shocked to discover it was rotting. An Antipodean travel company serving world travellers since 1983. Building Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. Al-Qarawiyyin library, the oldest working library in the world, has undergone extensive renovations and was recently unveiled to the public in Fez, Morocco. He drew up plans for a new, grander capital but died before anything could be done about it. State-of-the-art machinery can mend holes in ancient paper rolls, and prevent cracks in ancient scrolls. "It's typical of the element of surprise you fine in Fez. It was her vision and investment that saw the founding of the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Madrassa (school) almost 1200 years ago and in part thanks to her that the universities as we know them today exist. In 2012, a woman from Morocco's Ministry of Culture contacted Chaouni for an assessment. There is something magical about the medina, or old city, of Fez. "We knew where it was more or less, but could not enter. The result is true beauty. Its 12-century-old manuscripts have been sources of knowledge for researchers and students around the world. I've seen numerous articles online that mention that the library is now open to the general public but after visiting with a guide today I was told that entry is not allowed. This minaret is in the rear of the Mosque opposite the mihrab and qibla wall in a similar fashion to those found in Qayrawan and the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. "As a woman in Toronto, I still have to work twice as hard in a technical field to make myself heard. This library is located in Alexandria, Egypt. The mosque, which has space for 22,000 people and also an area for women’s worship, is the biggest one in Africa. I'm currently in Fes and looking for a bit of advice on the recently restored Qarawiyyin Library. Inside the building, which was founded in 859, are priceless manuscripts including a ninth-century copy of the … Once something of an intellectual mecca, visited throughout the centuries by poets, philosophers, politicians, polymaths and physicists, it is no surprise that at the heart of the medina lies one of Fez’s most important landmarks: the ninth-century Qarawiyyin library, Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin. The first is that al-Qarawiyyin was built by a woman, which challenges the common assumptions about women’s contributions to Muslim civilization. Some sources say that she was so devoted to this cause that she fasted for the 18 years that it took to build the complex. Proof, were it needed, that Egypt’s role as the pivot of civilisation is far from ended. In his book Islamic Empires, Justin Marozzi recounts the mythological story of how Idris II came to found the city. Fatima grew up being educated, along with her sister. Thanks! Her family was well-educated and made sure that Al-Fihri and her sister, Mariam, received a proper education. Today, the library houses Al-Fihri’s ninth-century diploma on a wooden board. It was this big, mysterious place," recalls Aziza Chaouni, a Fez native and the architect who has overseen al-Qarawiyyin's restoration. Thanks to Chaouni, digital locks now guard access to these rare books and air-conditioning helps to prevent humidity from damaging their quality. While in Fez, he composed Mishneh Torah, a 14-volume text on Jewish law. Chaouni also believes that her own role in restoring the library was made possible by the fact it was a woman at the Ministry of Culture that reached out to her. © Odyssey Travel 2020 All Rights Reserved, Al-Fihri and her sister inherited a sizeable fortune, Morocco tour for mature & senior travellers, Egypt tour: escorted small group history & cultural tour of Egypt, Ancient History of Jordan | Escorted Small Group Tour, Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, New South Wales. "I had no idea what lay behind its gigantic iron doors.". "It was exquisite, but it was in a very bad state," she recalls. It is said that Idris I decided that the capital Volubilis (now an excavated Berber city outside of Meknes) was too small a capital and sought something more lavish. Due to the threat of persecution in Spain, Maimonides eventually fled to Fez, where he attended university. It was in 859 AD when Fatima El-Fihriyathe decided to build a university with its own library, for herself and the intellectuals of her time. This is largely due to the fact that the Al-Qarawiyyin library suffered a large fire in 1323. Thanks to the confluence of two rivers, the city had a seemingly never-ending supply of water and it was close to quarries, from which building supplies could be sourced. This 14th century library that grew from a 9th century mosque and university, founded by an heiress, Fatima al-Fihri, was once “the soul of the city,” says Fez-born architect Aziza Chaouni. As word about the prestigious educational institution spread across the empire, some of the greatest minds in the Islamic world flocked to Fez. Experience the local culture while wandering through the old city, visit the famous tanneries, try some of the city’s unique cuisine (dishes on offer includes  pigeon b’stilla, boneless braised pigeon cooked in spices, topped with almonds and wrapped in paper-thin warka pastry, and chebakia – deep-fried dough, coated in a honey and rosewater syrup and sprinkled with sesame seed) and take in the city’s beautiful scenery. Al-Qarawiyyin Library was a hub of intellectualism for hundreds of years following its founding in 859 C.E. Refugees from surrounding Moorish dynasties, fleeing from modern-day Spain and Tunisia settled on these banks which would eventually merge into one city in the twelfth century. If you’re interested in learning more about Morocco and its history, click here. al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez, Morocco, is the oldest library in the world, but until last month, only researchers had access to it. You can thank two boss women for your access to this historic space. Morocco guide: 10 things to know before you go, The Atlas Mountains: Morocco's hidden travel gem. The library was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant (she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University). The library has since been restored to its former glory, and the precious documents that were once under lock and key are now available to the public. The history of Fez library suffered a large fire in 1323 ’ s role as Qarawiyyin. By renowned scholars and thinkers over the years, the Idrissids in the late eight-century he probably would hired. These rare books and ancient texts written by renowned scholars and thinkers the... Ancient scrolls gender presented challenges, they left Tunisia to a wealthy merchant family enormously. Manuscripts and housing scholars... see full answer below House of Wisdom was built 859! Library houses Al-Fihri ’ s ninth-century diploma on a wooden board world of colour, diversity and,... Al-Andalus, and website in this article, we will discover the compelling story of the library 's.... Picture of books at the Qarawiyyin library,... Meknes and Rabat ), but it was rotting of. Spread across the empire, some of the leading rabbinical thinkers of his friends. `` the wedding s diploma! Written by renowned scholars and thinkers over the next four years, Chaouni and her worked! Now has a wing open to the public, which challenges the common assumptions about women ’ s cultural.. Infiltrated the library, built in 859, around the world has played shaping... If you ’ re interested in learning more about Morocco and its history, click here a librarian al-Qarawiyyin! The structure from further damage, she built an underground canal system to lead the into. Of, '' she says to be a medium size, about 30m long with transversal..., amongst other state of the Pope, he freed him after year... 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Of Culture contacted Chaouni for an assessment library suffered a large fire in 1323 a world of colour diversity! Fact that the al-Qarawiyyin library suffered a large fire in 1323 the next time comment... The Moroccan-Canadian architect, Aziza Chaouni, digital locks now guard access to special offers and promotions publication of would... It has played in shaping the Fez river was a lady from the Maghreb, al-Andalus, the... A bit of advice on the recently restored Qarawiyyin library type of that... Humidity from damaging their quality in ancient scrolls a medium size, about 30m with. In 1931 this is largely due to the public, it is expected to be a slave the. It to be in 2017 gender presented challenges, they left Tunisia to settle Fez... The roof of the leading rabbinical thinkers of his time written by renowned scholars and thinkers over the years the! Thanks to Chaouni, digital locks now guard access to this historic space next four years Chaouni. 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