Africa

Kairouan Medina (World Heritage)

Kairouan was founded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and was the first Arab city to be founded in North Africa. The city experienced its heyday around 900. Today, numerous monuments testify to its long history, such as B. the massive city wall or the seventeen-aisled Great Mosque. It is considered the most important and oldest Islamic building in North Africa, which influenced all of Western Islamic architecture.

Kairouan Medina: Facts

Official title: Kairouan’s medina
Cultural monument: Old town surrounded by a city wall with city gates like the Bab el Khoukha, with the seventeen-aisled Great Mosque, the “Mosque of the Three Gates” with rich decoration in the Spanish-Moorish style and the so-called “Babier Mosque”
Continent: Africa
Country: Tunisia
Location: Kairouan, on the edge of the central Tunisian steppe, south of Tunis
Appointment: 1988
Meaning: first holy city of the Maghreb, “pearl of the Aghlabid dynasty”

Kairouan Medina: History

670 according to legend, it was founded
672 Start of construction of the Great Mosque (Djama Sidi Oqba)
774 Extension of the Great Mosque
around 800 owned by Ibrahim Ibn al-Aghlab, governor of Harun-ar-Raschid
836 New construction of the Great Mosque with a 72 m wide prayer hall
1052 Construction of a city wall
1618 fifth enlargement and reconstruction of the Great Mosque after the new building
1860 Construction of the “Saber Mosque”
2009 Capital of Islamic culture

Cradle of islam

Divine inspiration is said to have moved the Arab military leader Oqba ibn Nafi, a student of the Prophet Mohammed, to set up an army camp and a caravan rest stop on the western edge of the Sahel in the 7th century. However, it was probably more strategic reasons that led to the establishment of Kairouan. The rise to the metropolis of the Arab province of Ifrikya was quick, just as quickly it had to give up its leading political role, first to Mahdia and later to Cairo. But the spiritual and religious position of Kairouan was never in question. To this day, Muslims consider it one of the holy places alongside Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Seven pilgrimages to Kairouan can replace the Hajj, the mandatory pilgrimage to distant Mecca. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote on 21. December 1910 was very fascinated by Clara Rilke: »The flat white city lies like a vision in its pewter walls, with nothing but plains and graves around it, as if besieged by their dead who lie everywhere in front of the walls and do not move and always increase. The simplicity and vitality of this religion are felt like a miracle here, the prophet is like yesterday, and the city is his like a kingdom. ”

The view par excellence over the winding medina with its venerable minarets, which proclaim the praise of Allah, the round mosque domes, the souks, the mountains in the west and the wide plain all around can be enjoyed while walking on the defiant, still awe inspiring city wall. This is most beautiful at dusk, when the sun lays its long shadows over the city and the hot stones emit a glowing red glow.

Almost all of the important sacred and secular Islamic buildings that still adorn Kairouan today date from the economically and culturally flourishing era of the Aghlabids, who built their residence in this city in the 9th century. They are also responsible for the first Islamic house of worship on Tunisian soil, which from then on was to serve as a model for Moorish sacred architecture: the Sidi Oqba Mosque, also known as the “Great Mosque”. According to ebizdir, the French writer Guy de Maupassant rightly raved about this holiest place in Tunisia: “It is a huge, massive building supported by huge buttresses, a white, heavy, imposing mass, beautiful in an inexplicable wild beauty. On entering, one first sees a magnificent courtyard, which is surrounded by a double, is enclosed by two rows of elegant Romanesque columns. You feel as if you are inside a beautiful Italian monastery. «Unfortunately, non-Muslims are only allowed to enter this inner courtyard. But it’s worth it! And if you are a little lucky, you can at least take a look into the unique prayer room with its imposing spatial effect in the Omajadic tradition, the jewel of which is the prayer niche decorated with precious Baghdad gold faience tiles. And again Guy de Maupassant: “Before us appears a temple of gigantic proportions, resembling a sacred forest; for one hundred and eighty columns of onyx, porphyry and marble support the vaults of seventeen naves. ” And again Guy de Maupassant: “Before us appears a temple of gigantic proportions, resembling a sacred forest; for one hundred and eighty columns of onyx, porphyry and marble support the vaults of seventeen naves. ” And again Guy de Maupassant: “Before us appears a temple of gigantic proportions, resembling a sacred forest; for one hundred and eighty columns of onyx, porphyry and marble support the vaults of seventeen naves. ”

The second most important sanctuary of Kairouan, the “mosque of the three gates” in the medina, was also given to their city by the art-loving Aghlabids. The facade with the three arches is a special feast for the eyes, above which a delicate frieze in Kufi script runs around a chiseled band with plant ornaments. “The most graceful, colorful and flirtatious of the mosques and of everything I saw, the most perfect masterpiece of Arabic decorative art,” are Guy de Maupassant’s words after seeing the barber’s mosque with its magnificent faience decorations. Pilgrims are still magically drawn to Bir Barouta. This well – it is said – is said to be connected underground with the sacred well Zem-Zem in Mecca.

The turbulent gears and debris in the souk alleys of the Medina, where loud bargaining and trading take place, take you into a completely different, quite secular atmosphere. Because Kairouan is not only a sacred place of pilgrimage, but also a stronghold of the carpet trade, a lively city of the present, where handicrafts and mass-produced goods, highlights and kitsch meet.

Kairouan Medina (World Heritage)