Al-Qarawiyyin Library, the oldest library in the world

Fes, Marocco

Simona Bertolaso



Siti Storici
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Although there is one continuously existing library that is older, the al-Qarawiyyin Library is often believed to be the oldest library in the world. The library is apart of one of the oldest universities in the world and was first opened in 859 CE. It was founded by by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant (she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University).

For the past several decades, most of the library has been closed off to all but a few scholars and students of the university because of extensive damage. In 2012, Morocco’s Ministry of Culture contacted Aziza Chaouni, a Toronto-based architect and engineer, originally from Fez, Moroco, to assess the library’s damage. Chaouni discovered that the library was rotting and that there was a river running underneath the floors. Since then, the library has had extensive renovations and was opened to the public sometime in 2017.

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