The world’s oldest library was founded in Fez in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, and now after a restoration that cost many millions of dollars it will be open to the public for the first time.
The Qarawiyyin Library has been undergoing renovations for the past few years, and when they are complete one wing of the library will be open. The renovations have included things like replacing tiles and getting the fountains working once again.
The building is unbelievably beautiful but it has another draw as well…some ancient books. The library contains 4,000 books that are considered rare including the earliest collection of Islamic hadiths, and a ninth-century Qur’an written on camel skin. Not that you can just walk in and read them, they are kept under lock and key in rooms carefully controlled for the temperature and humidity.
Once the library opens, some of those books will be available for viewing within an exhibit. The library will also offer a cafe and a reading room for visitors to use at their leisure.
The architect Aziza Chaouni who restored the library is a local resident of Fez and also has plans to restore the river that runs through the city.