Kairouan – Tunisia

Interior of Kairouan Mosque with the minaret on the north side

The Mosque of Uqba, also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia, situated in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Kairouan.

Built by the Arab General Uqba ibn Nafi from 670 AD at the founding of the city of Kairouan, the mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square metres and it is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb.The Great Mosque of Kairouan is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa, its perimeter is 405 metres (1,328 feet). This vast space contains a hypostyle prayer hall, a huge marble-paved courtyard and a massive square minaret. In addition to its spiritual prestige, the Mosque of Uqba is one of the masterpieces of both architecture and Islamic art.

Under the Aghlabids in the 9th century, huge works gave the mosque its present aspect. The fame of the Mosque of Uqba and of the other holy sites at Kairouan helped the city to develop and repopulate increasingly. The university, consisting of scholars who taught in the mosque, was a centre of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared to that of the University of Paris in the Middle Ages. With the decline of the city of Kairouan from the mid 11th century, the centre of education moved to the University of Ez-Zitouna in Tunis.

For non-Muslims wishing to visit the interior of the mosque, you must be there in the morning. Photograph taken 11th July 2010

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