Qantara Qantara

Necropolis of al-Qulla

  • Name : Necropolis of al-Qulla
  • Place : The region of al-Qulla or Jabal al-Arde and Jabal Zaafarane, Fez, Marocco
  • Construction date/period :  

    AD 1361

  • Construction materials : Stone, fired clay bricks, lime mortar

This necropolis belonged to the Marinid royal family. It was also called kbibate Beni Merine, and it sits on a hill that overlooks the northern side of Fez al-Bali and its historic ramparts, with a fine view of the Sebu valley. Under the Marinids (1196–1549), the hill of al-Qulla was chosen as the site of a royal necropolis that still bears their name. Between 1361 and 1398, the successors of the sultan Abū al-Hasan and other princes were buried there. It was the last and most important of the Marinid necropolises, the first having been that of Challa in Rabat.

Already in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, written sources described the burial of many pious people on this site. These sources refer to the building of a fortress containing four mausoleums, a mosque, and a hammam by the Almohad sultan Muhammad al-Nāsir (reigned 1199–1213), water reached these buildings through channels from the Wadi Fez. All these buildings fell into ruins after long periods of famines that occurred in Morocco towards the end of the Almohad dynasty.

No precise document exists that would reconstitute the plan, architecture, or decorations of this necropolis during the Marinid era, despite this, it is possible to see the remains of three mausoleums and of a mosque with its mihrāb. According to Leo Africanus, these tombs, that are today in ruins, were, at the start of the sixteenth century, decorated with strong, fine ornaments and marble stones, with epitaphs and engraved letters set off in rich colours. The geographer also pointed to the existence, at that time of a ‘palace (…) with the tombs of certain Marinid kings (…), which filled with admiration all those that gazed upon them.’

We are unable at this time to establish the origins and the sources of inspiration for these funerary buildings, of which few significant vestiges remain. However, ancient inscriptions would indicate that the necropolis was similar in style to the royal mausoleums in Morocco especially the one that was virtually the contemporary of Challa and that of the Saadian era at Marrakech.


El Jaznnai, A., Janiy zahrat -al-As fi binae madinat Fas, el-matbaa el-Malakiya, Rabat, 1991.

ابن أبي زرع، روض القرطاس، الرباط، المطبعة الملكية، 1936، 3 مجلدات

Le Tourneau, R., Fès avant le Protectorat, Rabat, 1987, Éditions La Porte.

Marçais, G., L’architecture musulmane d’Occident, Paris, 1954, Arts et métiers graphiques.

Terrasse, M., L'architecture hispano-maghrébine et la naissance d'un nouvel art marocain à l'âge des Marinides, Paris, 1979, Université Paris IV.

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