Fodor's Expert Review Medersa
Just north of the Zaouia of Sidi Mohammed Ben Naceur is a 17th-century medersa that still lodges 400 students preparing for university studies. The accompanying Koranic library once held the largest such collection in Morocco, with 40,000 volumes on everything from mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and astronomy to linguistics and Berber poetry. The remaining tomes are plenty impressive: a genealogy of the prophet Mohammed, manuscripts adorned with gold leaf, a medical book with afflictions written in red and remedies in black, and hand-illuminated manuscripts penned in mint (green), saffron (yellow), and henna (red) on gazelle hide. Ask for a look at the 13th-century algebra primer with Western Arabic numerals, which, though subsequently abandoned in the Arab world, provided the basis for Western numbers. There is no official admission charge, but a small donation is expected (20 DH).