Monday, May 9, 2016

Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II - Fez, Morocco

Idris II was the son of Idris, founder of the Idrisid dynasty in Morocco and the man that brought Islam to Morocco. I previously did a post on the Mausoleum of Idris in Moulay Idriss. Idriss II was born in Walila, previously known as Volubilis, in 791, two months after the death of his father. His mother, Kenza, a daughter of the chief of a Berber tribe, raised him among the Berbers. Idris II was brilliant. He could read by age four, write by age five, and had memorized the Koran by age eight. Rashid, a servant of his father, was regent on behalf of Idris II until 805 or 807 (I see conflicting dates), when Idris II was old enough to rule. Idris II re-founded the city of Fez on the left bank of the Fez River, 20 years after his father founded Fez on the right bank of the Fez River. Idris II continued the work begun by his father, unifying Morocco under Islam. Idris II died in 828, in Volubilis (where he was born), by that time the father of 12 sons.  

The Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II is now the heart of Fez and the second most sacred spot in Morocco. It is built on the site of a mosque and surrounded by a shrine. 
The minaret of the mosque associated with the tomb is in the background. The tanneries are in the foreground. 
Here is the minaret from where we ate lunch at La Madena. 
The minaret from another angle, taken from the top of a carpet shop.
Finally, this photo captures the entire mosque and shrine, photographed from the Berber walls outside the madena.
One source says it was originally built in the 9th century, but I believe that may relate to the building of the mosque on that spot. One source says an uncorrupted body was found on this spot in 1308 and people believed it to be Moulay Idriss II. The Mausoleum was built at that time for the body and then was almost completely replaced between 1717 and 1824 by Moulay Ismail. Another source says that the grave and shrine of Idris II was rediscovered in 1437. 
We came across multiple openings to the mosque and tomb, usually crowded with tourists. 
Beautiful carpets, doors, decorated walls and ceilings are inside.
Amazingly beautiful varied decorations.
Some of the painted scalloped edges near the ceiling.
A ceiling.
An inscription above one of the outer doors.
I'm assuming this is an informative sign - right next to an entrance - in Arabic.
Beautiful decorative work on the outside of the mosque and shrine. 
A view from a different entrance. Note the fountain in the courtyard.
A tiled inside wall.
The top of an inner doorway.
More beautiful decoration high on a wall near the ceiling.
A different entrance.
A better view of the courtyard.
The fountain in the center of the courtyard.
A different entrance - this one closed.
Decoration on the outside wall.
Decoration on the outside wall.
Another entrance, one of the more beautiful ones.
Decoration near the entrance.
A ceiling in an alley outside the mosque.
An example of the narrow passageways that surround the mosque. 
Like the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss in Moulay Idriss, which houses his father's tomb, this is only open to Muslims. However, unlike the Moulay Idriss tomb, it is possible to get right up next to the multiple entrances and look in. There are wooden barriers around the "holy district" in Fez that were originally used to keep Christians, Jews and donkeys out. Today these barriers are an indication to non-Muslims that the area is out of bounds to them. 
An example of a wooden barrier, requiring those who go in to stoop. 
A close-up of the beautiful wood on the barrier.
A peak inside the door reveals an ablution area where those going into the mosque cleanse themselves. 
The ceiling above that same area.
Photo of the tomb of Moulay Idriss II from here
The last entrance we saw into the mosque. Note the wooden barrier we had to stoop under. Judy is with our guide, Hassan. Hassan encouraged us to look in the doors and take pictures.  
From the outside of the wooden barrier, looking up, we could see the mosque minaret. Unlike minarets we've seen in other countries, Morocco mosques only have one and they are squared. 
From inside the barrier, looking into the mosque entrance.
Looking up at the beautiful bluish arch over the entrance.
Decoration around the entrance.
Tile near the entrance.
Finally, inlaid wood decoration near the entrance. 


  1. We could do just about everything but go inside here. I was surprised about how open they were to nosy tourists taking photos. It's interesting that there isn't more food information in English about the site, don't you think?

  2. The tiling, doorways, colors, and style of this country never get old.

  3. Thank you Bob and Judy. My wife and I are traveling to Morocco next month and your travelogue was very useful to make our itinerary.
    Satish Madhiwalla, Mumbai, India

    1. We're glad the blogs were helpful. Have a great trip!