Name of Monument:

Mosque and minaret of the Mechouar (citadel)


Tlemcen, Algeria

Date of Monument:

Hegira end of the 7th – beginning of the 8th century / AD end of 13th century – beginning of the 14th century

Period / Dynasty:



Abu Hammu Musa I.


It was Yaghmurasan (r. AH 633–81 / AD 1236–83) who undertook the construction of the mechouar (citadel), which later became the official residence of the Ziyanids. The ramparts are practically all that remain, as well as the mosque within that was completed in AH 717–18 / AD 1317–18 by Abu Hammu Musa I. The oratory room, without a courtyard, fulfilled a variety of functions; notably it served as an annex to the military hospital, and as a Catholic chapel, during the colonial period. The minaret has retained its proportions, as well as its decoration on all four sides: panels of small columns with an ensemble of arches on a mosaic background of faïence tiles.

View Short Description

The Mechouar at Tlemcen is, along with the ramparts, all that remains of the citadel built by Yaghmurasan, which went on to become the official residence of the Ziyanids. The mosque, built about a century later by Abu Hammu Musa I, consists of a prayer room only and no courtyard. The four sides of the square-plan minaret are decorated with panels of columns and arcatures on a background of faïence-tile mosaics.

How Monument was dated:

In comparing the decorative elements of the minaret to those of Malaga, G. Marçais attributes them to Spanish workshops from the end of the 7th–beginning of the 8th century / end of the 13th–beginning of the 14th century.

Selected bibliography:

Bourouiba, R., Apports de l'Algérie à l'architecture arabo-islamique, Algiers, 1986.
Marçais, G., Tlemcen, 'Les villes d'art célèbres' (collection), Paris, 1950; Blida, 2004.

Citation of this web page:

Ali Lafer "Mosque and minaret of the Mechouar (citadel)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019.;ISL;dz;Mon01;22;en

Prepared by: Ali Lafer
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 28