The 17th century Shiratin madrasa is the largest madrasa in Fez, and is the only one that is not a Marinid foundation. It was commissioned by the 'Alawi Sultan Rashid b. Muhammad I al-Sahrif in 1670.
The Shiratin madrasa may have housed up to 150 students, whose rooms are unusual for their disposition around small interior courtyards rather than disposed around the main courtyard, as in the majority of madrasas in the Maghrib.
The decorative program of the Shiratin madrasa, however, continues the tradition established by the Marinid foundations, which translate materials and decorative motifs from Nasrid palace architecture into a religious setting. Carved stucco ornament enframed in rectangular panels on walls and piers, and carved wooden balustrades and window fittings form the main decorative elements of the central courtyard. The contrast between sumptuous ornament in the courtyard and the spartan accommodations for the students at the Shiratin and the Marinid madrasas may reflect the multiple functions of these buildings. The madrasas often served as mosques for their respective quarters and as settings for official ceremonies. With the addition of associated charitable functions like guesthouses and waqfs, or endowed properties which supported the madrasa's upkeep, to their primary role as religious schools, the madrasas functioned as important centers of community life. The courtyard, as the most public of the spaces within the madrasa, was therefore the focus of the ornament to highlight the generous image of the madrasa's founder.
Hillenbrand, Robert. 1994. Islamic Architecture. NY: Columbia UP, 240-251.