World's Oldest Library is Reopening for Travelers
PHOTO: Fez, Morocco is home to Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin. (Photo via Flickr/Esin Ustun)
The world's oldest library will soon welcome travelers.
Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin, located in Fez, Morocco in the northeastern part of the North African country, is scheduled to reopen in the coming months following four years of restoration, the Guardian recently reported.
Founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Tunisia's Kairouan, the library dates back to the ninth century.
Although it was originally expected to reopen this past summer when restoration efforts began in 2012, the date has been pushed back and architects hope to open before 2017.
"It has to continue to live," said Aziza Chaouni, whose architecture firm was tasked with restoring the library, via the Guardian. "I hope it will open soon, and the public will come and enjoy seeing the manuscripts for the first time. But I also hope that the people from Fez will use the space like a second home."
"The library's value is not simply to preserve it for tourists, but that it is functioning."
Among the library's thousands of ancient manuscripts is a ninth-century Koran that was written on camel skin.
While the library will retain its unrivaled history, notable enhancements to the attraction will include solar panels for increased energy efficiency, a new drainage system, humidity controls to preserve the manuscripts, and air conditioning, an amenity that obviously wasn't around in the year 859 CE.
There will also be a lab where a full-time staff will work to digitize the works and preserve others by treating them with a liquid to avoid cracking, while a computerized security system will be implemented to protect the library's valuable items.
Even if you don't plan on visiting Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin, you may want to consider a trip to Fez, a destination that has experienced a recent tourism boom and that is widely regarded to be Morocco's cultural capital.
More by Patrick Clarke
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