The World’s Oldest Library Will Soon Open to the Public
And visitors from across the world are welcome.
A multi-million dollar restoration of the oldest library in the world is almost complete.
A wing of the Qarawiyyin Library, founded in Fez in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, will open to the public before the end of the year.
The library has been undergoing massive renovations for three years. Engineers and craftsmen examined the building's structural integrity, repaired broken tiles, reinforced carved wooden archways and restored the landmark's fountains.
While the library itself is beautiful, with its arches and courtyards, its most prized relics are all secured within. According to The Guardian, four locks once secured the library’s most coveted ancient works, like a ninth-century Qur’an written on camel skin in Kufic script. The keys were dispersed to four individual guardians. Today, 4,000 rare books and manuscripts, including an original copy of Ibn Khaldun's “Muqaddimah” and the earliest collection of Islamic hadiths, are protected in temperature and humidity controlled rooms.
Aziza Chaouni, a Fez native, was the architect that restored the library.
“I would like my kids to be able to see this heritage,” she told The Guardian. She also has plans to revitalize the river that runs through Fez.
Locals and visitors in the colorful city will have access to an exhibition of rare books, a reading room, a café, and more.
Melanie Lieberman is the Associate Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.