Name of Monument:

North Burj


Outside the (Marinid) Medina on a hill overlooking the town, Fez, Morocco

Date of Monument:

Hegira 995 / AD 1588

Period / Dynasty:



Ahmad al-Mansur al-Dhahabi (r. AH 986–1012 / AD 1578–1603).


This massive military construction, built of adobe, is approximately square plan. A tower stands at each of its four corners and corridors run around its interior. The ceilings consist of semi-circular barrel vaults. Some simple decoration has survived, but it has been partially covered by repeated restoration work and a lack of relevant documentation makes dating difficult. A wide staircase with more than 60 steps leads to the terrace.
Today, the burj is used as an armaments museum.

View Short Description

Located on a hill to the north of the Fez medina, outside the ramparts, the North Burj (now a museum of armaments) is a bastion built in the AH 10th / AD 16th century by the Sa'did Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. This massive military structure, built with adobe and flanked by four towers, helped to protect the town against several sieges at the hands of various tribes and pretenders to the throne.
Corridors run around the inside the building. Its semi-circular vaulted ceilings are adorned with simple decorations, some of which have been covered up by repeated restorations.

How Monument was dated:

According to written sources (Fachtali, Manahil al-Safa), the North Burj was built around AH 995 / AD 1588. There are no dates on the monument itself.

Selected bibliography:

Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.126–7.

Citation of this web page:

Mohamed Mezzine "North Burj" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024. 2024.;ISL;ma;Mon01;12;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 17


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 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period



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