Great Mosque of Kairouan

View of Mosque of Uqba

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

Builder

Established by the Arab general Uqba Ibn Nafy (R.z) in 670 AD

Area

The mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square meters

Significance

It is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the West as well as it’s one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa.

Current Sight

The view of the Mosque that we experience today is a result of renovation and work under the Aghlabids, an Arab dynasty.

Do you know?

Around 690, shortly after its construction, the mosque was destroyed during the occupation of Kairouan by the Berbers, originally conducted by Kuala, a 7th-century leader of the Awraba tribe of the Berber people and Christian head of the Sanhadja confederation.

Enclosure

The Great Mosque of Kairouan’s enclosure is pierced by 9 gates (six opening on the courtyard, two opening on the prayer hall and the ninth allows access to the Maqsura, an enclosure in a Mosque, situated near the Mihrab and Minbar

carved_door_of_mosqueMaqsura

Minaret

The minaret, which occupies the center of the northern facade of the complex’s enclosure, is 31.5m tall and is seated on a square base of 10.7m on each side. The interior of the minaret includes a staircase of 129 steps. It’s one of the world’s oldest surviving minarets, dating back to 8th-9th century.

Minaret

Dome

The Mosque has several domes, the largest being over the Mihrab and the entrance to the prayer hall from the courtyard and it is one of the oldest and most remarkable domes in the western Islamic world

Dome of Mosque of Uqba

Prayer hall

The prayer hall is located on the southern side of the courtyard; and is accessed by 17 carved wooden doors.
In the prayer there are 414 columns (among more than 500 columns in the whole mosque)

Prayer hall of Mosque of Uqba

Mihrab

It indicates the Qibla (direction of Mecca), is formed by an oven-shaped niche framed by 2 marble columns and topped by a painted wooden half-cupola. The niche dates in its present state to 862863 AD.

Mihrab

Facts

The exterior of the Great Mosque of Kairouan has buttressed walls which are the typically Aghlabid design

Exterior view of Mosque of Uqba

Muslims can enter the mosque through 9 different gates; non-Muslim visitors use the main gate and must be appropriately dressed; robes are available at the entrance for those who are not.

On the north side of the courtyard is a massive, 3 story minaret that rises 115ft high.

The lowest level of the minaret dates from 728 and includes two reused Roman slabs with Latin inscriptions (one upside down).

Non-Muslims are not allowed inside, but the doors are left open to allow glimpses of the interior

 

 

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