Medersa Bou Inania is the oldest university in the western
world. It predates the more famous colleges at Oxford, Bologne and the Sorbonne.
Medersas are theological colleges; essentially a place to learn to recite the Koran and the
Hadith (the sayings and doings of the prophet Muhammed) before moving on to more
analytical studies. Commissioned by Abou Inan, the first ruler of the Mereneid dynasty,
Abou Inania is considered to be one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture and
design in Morocco. As the story goes, the cost of the building was so high that Abou Inan
cast the receipts and accounting into the river and said “A thing of beauty is beyond