Ibn Danan Synagogue – Fes, Morocco - Atlas Obscura
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Fes, Morocco

Ibn Danan Synagogue

This restored 17th century synagogue is one of the few remaining structures in Morocco’s ruined Jewish quarters. 

Located in the historic Fez Mellah, Morocco’s first designated Jewish quarter formed in 1438, Ibn Danan is one of the region’s oldest synagogues. Built in the 1600s by a prominent Moroccan Jewish family, the synagogue is among the last remaining buildings in this historic part of the city.

The Ibn Danan synagogue was built by the wealthy Ibn Danan family in the 17th century when the Jewish quarter constituted a thriving region of the city. Featuring traditional Moroccan and Islamic design points, the synagogue boasted spectacular tiles, stucco, and arched doorways.

An imperative restoration began in 1996 to strengthen and restore the synagogue, which had fallen into an alarming state of disrepair following World War II, despite the endeavors of neighboring Jewish communities to preserve it for its religious, cultural, and historical significance.

Peeling plaster, a caving roof, rotting beams, and broken windows were finally conserved by the World Monuments Fund in collaboration with the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, and the Judeo-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation in partnership with the local community. By 1999, the synagogue reopened to the public.

Today, Ibn Danan is thought to be the only complete Moroccan synagogue in existence, with wooden benches, oil lamps, embroidered tapestries, and the original gazelle skin Torah scrolls adorning the building’s interior.

Know Before You Go

The synagogue is centrally located in the mellah. It’s recommended that visitors find a trusted guide for a tour of the building.