Inside Ben Youssef Madrasa, Marrakesh

It took me three attempts before I actually made it inside Ben Youssef Madrasa. The first time I couldn’t find it at all. The winding confusing medina had me walking in every direction other than the correct one. The second time it was closed by the time I made it there, but on the third attempt I finally made it inside. Like a lot of places in the medina, the humble entrance way really downplays what you are about to step into.

ben youssef sign

After a walk down a short hallway the large inner courtyard is revealed, and wow, what a reveal. The huge space is an amazing display of geometric tile work and exquisitely carved details every where you look. Marble, cedar, and beautiful Arabic calligraphy fill the space. Impossible to take all in at once.

window framecourtyard

amazing details

prayer hall


Ben Youssef Madrasa was built in the 1500’s and was used as a school for religious students until the 1960’s. It’s fascinating to imagine the countless students who have studied in this amazing building over the years. Beyond the beautiful courtyard I loved exploring the small dorm rooms and teachers quarters on the upper level.

looking up

looking down

The entire place felt very hushed and timeless, and very separated from the hectic medina outside. It’s not a large place, but I spent a long time there quietly exploring. There are so many details to slowly notice. The entire place is a beautiful example of the Moorish architecture of Marrakesh and certainly worth time spent trying to find it.


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