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Mouassine

Mouassine is a district within the Medina of Marrakech neighbouring the districts of Bab Doukkala, Azbezt, Derb Tizougarine and Riad Aitoun El Kedim. The area contains the Mouassine Mosque, the Mouassine fountain and the Palais Dar el Bacha.[1]

The area acts as one of the main gateways to the souks and is a relatively affluent area of the Medina.

Name

Like the name Marrakech which is derived from the Tamazight language to mean the land of God [2] the name for the district of Mouassine is likely to have Tamazight origins but the meaning is unclear. In the 1930s the district had a spelling that was closer to the phonetic sound and was written Mwasin.[3] When the city of Marrakech was established in 1061 the district was known as Houmat Abi Abidan but during Marrakech’s renaissance in the 16th century under its Saadian rulers the name changed to Mouassine.

History

Up until the reign of Abdellah El Ghalib Jews were relatively dispersed through the city but the area of Mouassine housed a significant concentration of Jews and was generally regarded as an ancient Jewish quarter[4] When Abdallah El Ghalib came to power in 1557 he used the opportunity to re-landscape Marrakech as a symbol of his authority and part of this was to relocate the Jewish community into the new Mellah area. Up until this massive re-landscaping Mouassine was regarded as one of the two ancient Jewish areas.[5] The most famous landmark in Mouassine is the Mouassine Mosque built during the Saadian period (1510–1699).[6] Construction was ordered by Sultan Abdallah El Ghalib and the mosque was part of a massive re-landscaping of the area and was constructed upon the site of a Jewish cemetery [7] The mosque, also known as Al Ashraf is actually part of the Mouassine complex and includes a library, hamman, madrasa and the famous Mouassine Fountain, which is the largest and most famous in the medina.

The current configuration of Mouassine dates back to the Saadian period and the properties reflected the wealth in the area by being proportionately larger and more ornate than other Marrakech districts. For example, the Mouassine Douira has recently been renovated and opened to the public. The Dar was created during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (1646–1727) and still contains the original decorative plasterwork.[8] Mouassine also contains dar Cherifa which is generally regarded as one of the best preserved houses in the city.

Economy

Mouassine is one of the most upmarket areas of the Medina containing a number of the highest rated riads in the whole of Morocco. Riad Snan 13, Dar Mo’da, Riad Al-Bushra, Riad El-Zohar, and Riad L’Orangerie were all in Trip Advisor’s top 25 in 2014.[9]

Additionally there are a number of stores that offer top quality Moroccan produce and export their produce around the world. La Maison du Kaftan Marocain, Maktoub, Kif Kif, and Kulchi all have their home in Mouassine. The area seems to successfully fuse the traditional with the contemporary and remains an important gateway to the souks.

References

  1. ^ Marrakech Medina Map.Médinacarte.com
  2. ^ Don Nanjira, D. (2010) African Foreign Policy and Diplomacy from Antiquity to the 21st Century. Volume Two. Praeger. p208.
  3. ^ Eickelman, D. (1985) Knowledge and Power in Morocco: The education of a twentieth-century notable. Princeton University Press. p76.
  4. ^ Gottreich, E. (2006) The Mellah of Marrakecsh: Jewish and Muslim Space in Morocco's Red City. Indiana University Press.
  5. ^ Triki, H. & Dovifat, A. et al. (1999) Medersa de Marrakech. Edisal. p67.
  6. ^ UNESCO World Heritage List. [whc.unesco.org] Retrieved 12 September 2015/
  7. ^ Ricard, P. (1950) Maroc, Encyclopedie par l'image Les Guides Bleus. Edition 7. Hachette. p135
  8. ^ [www.moroccoworldnews.com] retrieved 17 September 2015/
  9. ^ Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Awards [www.tripadvisor.com] retrieved 11 September 2015/