In the centre of Fez Old Town, Place Nejjarine, Fez, Morocco
Hegira 1123 / AD 1711
Mulay Isma‘ïl (AH 1083–1140 / AD 1672–1727) for the funduq, Mulay ‘Abd Al-Rahman (AH 1238–76 / AD 1822–59) for the fountain.
Although they were constructed almost one century apart, the funduq (caravanserai) and seqqaya (fountain) of the Place Nejjarine (Carpenters' Square) constitute a single social and civic entity.
Usually erected charitably and often as an annex to a mosque, this fountain is unusually connected to a hostel.
The Nejjarin funduq occupies an almost regular rectangular space and faces northeast/southwest. It is accessed through a large opening extending onto a straight hallway. Two steps give access to the courtyard. This rectangular courtyard is surrounded on all four sides by galleries that in turn lead to bedrooms of different sizes.
There are two upper floors above the ground floor. The façades of the courtyard are symmetrical.
The building is noteworthy for its large portal (5 m high by 3 m wide) that dominates the square and the building. The composition of the portal is uniform and harmonious. Its decoration is based on a horseshoe arch resting on two full brick pillars set into the wall. This arch is surrounded by a second poly-lobed arch in sculpted plaster, whose spandrels are tiled with zellij (small tiles) bearing floral, and epigraphic decoration. Above the arch there is a band bearing an inscription and a succession of arcades in sculpted plaster or wood. The ensemble is crowned by consoles that support a large canopy in sculpted wood. They are marked by series of arches resting on pillars and wooden beams.
The interior, similar to all funduq, was restored in 1998 and converted into a museum of woodwork.
The Nejjarin fountain opposite the funduq, located near the centre of the square, is a rectangular pool which served as a drinking trough, in particular for the horses of the customers of the funduq. Its upper part and the back of the pointed horseshoe arcature that rises behind it are covered with ceramic marquetry. On either side of the arcature, two demi-columns support overhanging wooden lintels and cornices.
Al-Nejjarin Funduq is a caravanserai built in the AH 12th /AD 18th century by Sultan Mulay Isma'ïl to house the large numbers of passing merchants in Fez. Built on a rectangular site, the funduq is noteworthy for its gateway, which dominates the square. The ground floor was used exclusively for stabling, with the guest rooms on the first floor. At the beginning of the 20th century, the funduq was used as a police station by the Protectorate. It was recently restored (1998) and turned into a museum of woodwork. It stands beside a beautiful 19th-century fountain.
There are no dates on the monument or the fountain, but classical texts such as Ibn Zaydan's Ithaf date the funduq to 1123.
Aouni, L.M., “Les monuments de Moulay Ismaïl à Fès”, Actes du colloque Moulay Ismaïl, Meknès, 1995, pp.87–109.
Schéma directeur d'urbanisme de la ville de Fès, Dossier technique no. IV, Les inventaires, Paris, 1980, p.20.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.123–4.
Mohamed Mezzine "Nejjarin Funduq" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;ma;Mon01;17;en
Prepared by: Mohamed MezzineMohamed Mezzine
Mohamed Mezzine is a heritage historian and the director of an established graduate program at the university of Fes on the history, preservation and restoration of architectural heritage in ancient (Moroccan) cities. He studied at University Mohamed V (Rabat) and obtained a Doctorat d'Etat in history from the University of Paris (7). Pr. Mezzine has been a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Metz, Tours (URBAMA) and Aix-en-Provence. He has likewise co-directed a number of joint research heritage projects involving French and Spanish academics. He has authored books and articles on the architectural heritage of the Islamic world including Fès médiévale, ed. Mohamed Mezzine (Paris : Ed. Autrement, 1992) ; “Political Power and Socio-Religious Networks in 16th-Century Fes,” in Islamic Urbanism in Human History: Political Power and Social Networks, ed. Tsugitaka Sato (London: Kegan Publ. de la Faculté des Lettres Sais-Fès, 2003). Pr. Mezzine is also a member of the national “Commission for the Preservation of Fes.”
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: MO 23
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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