The Great Mosque at Kairouan

The Great Mosque at Kairouan

The Mosque of Uqba, also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia.

Built by Uqba ibn Nafi from 670 A.D. (the year 50 according to the Islamic calendar) at the founding of the city of Kairouan, the mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square meters and is considered as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb in the western Islamic world. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is certainly one of the most extensive monuments in North Africa with a huge perimeter approximately equal to 415 meters (1,361 feet). This enormous space contains a prayer hall, a large marble-paved courtyard and a massive minaret. The venerable and prestigious Mosque of Uqba is universally reputed as a masterpiece of both architecture and Islamic art.

Under the Aghlabids, the fame of the Mosque of Uqba and of the other holy sites at Kairouan helped the city to develop and repopulate little by little. The university, consisting of scholars who met in the mosque, was a centre of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared to that of the University of Paris in the Middle Ages. With the decline of the city, the centre of intellectual thought moved to the University of Ez-Zitouna in Tunis.