Ali Ben Youssef Medersa: You who enter my door, may your highest hopes be exceeded’ reads the instruction over the entryway to the medersa, and after almost six centuries, the blessing still works its charms on visitors. Founded in the 14th century under the Merenids, this quranic learning centre was once the among the most splendid
Sight lines are lifted in the entry with carved Atlas cedar cupolas and mashrabiyya ( wooden-lattice screen) balconies.The courtyard is a mind-boggling profusion of Hispano-Moresque ornament: Five-colour zellij ( mosaic )walls; stucco archways; cedar windows with weather-worn carved vines; and a curved mihrab ( eastern-facing niche indicating the direction of Mecca ) of prized, milky-white Italian Carrara marble.
The medersa is affiliated with nearby Ali Ben Youssef Mosque and once 900 students in 132 dorms arranged around the courtyard studied religious and legal texts here. Despite upgrades with its 19th century renovation, the Ali ben Youssef Medersa gradually lost students to its collegiate rival, the Medersa Bou Inania i Fes, but the medersa still exudes magnificent, studious calm.