ANCIENT GEOMETRY, 3. Great Mosque of Kairouan


The oldest mosque in North Africa is the Great Mosque of Kairouan (Tunisia), built by Uqba ibn Nafi in 670 A.D. Boussora and Mazouz’s study of the mosque dimensions reveals a very consistent application of the golden ratio in its design.

Great mosque of Kairounan

Floor plan of the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

The geometric technique of construction of the golden section seems to have determined the major decisions of the spatial organization. The golden section appears repeatedly in some part of the building measurements. It is found in the overall proportion of the plan and in the dimensioning of the prayer space, the court and the minaret. The existence of the golden section in some parts of Kairouan mosque indicates that the elements designed and generated with this principle may have been realised at the same period.


Because of urban constraints, the mosque floor plan is not a perfect rectangle. Even so, for example, the division of the courtyard and prayer hall is almost a perfect golden ratio.



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