It’s well documented that at 77 metres in height (including the spire) the Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakech is not only a landmark structure for the city but is also recognized as the model on which the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville were built.But, with 800 years of history associated with the current minaret, various myths and legends remain popular topics of discussion among tourists and locals over mint tea and coffee in the neighbouring Jemaa El-Fna Square.
The three golden globes on top of a minaret are a traditional style of Morocco. So why are there four on Koutoubia?
It’s alleged that the wife of the Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour broke her fast by eating grapes during Ramadan. Wreaked with guilt, she had all her gold jewelry melted down and fashioned into a fourth golden orb which she offered to Koutoubia.
Incidentally, the orbs that grace the tower today are made from gilded copper.
It’s an early start for the ‘muezzin’, the person appointed by a mosque to announce the calls to prayer (adhan) five times a day – plus the early wake-up call too. Prior to the days of electronic amplification, the muezzin would ride a horse or mule up and down a ramp constructed inside of the Koutoubia minaret to conduct his duties. You will notice that many of the minaret’s windows follow the course of the ramp to allow natural light through.
As some of the windows looked out over the sultan’s harem, it was preferred that the muezzin was blind so as to avoid any invasion of privacy while going about his duties.