The Bab Agnaou is the portion of the fortifications of Marrakesh is best known for its decoration. This gate, constructed by the first Almohad Caliph 'Abd al-Mu'min (reg. 1130-1163) in 1147, allows an entrance to the city near its southwest corner. The Almohad qasbah was built nearby decades later in 1185, and it was only then that the Bab Agnaou became one of the city's most important gates. It was through the Bab Agnaou that the citizens of Marrakech accessed the royal Almohad qasbah and its mosque, the Ya'qub al-Mansur mosque. Bab Agnaou is the only gate in the city that survives from the Almohad period, and it is notable for its rich ornamentation that reflects twelfth-century fortification design and decorative tastes. The entry portal is a large horseshoe arch with low imposts, a type of opening that was later repeated often in Islamic fortifications. The arch surround is faced with stone, which features concentric rings of geometric carvings that encircle the central arched opening. The spandrel above the large arch is decorated with finer stone carvings of more intricate, vegetal motifs. A large rectangular band of Qur'anic inscriptions in stone borders the spandrel, which is in turn topped by a thick sculpted stone cornice ornamented with geometric patterning and false merlons. Two massive brick towers border the portal on each side, and finer stone pilasters frame the central carvings and spandrel, extending from the base of the wall to the upper cornice. The contrasting colors of the stones used in the decoration is notable; red and gray-blue stones are intermixed to create a polychromatic effect. The gray-blue stones are used in particular density along the base and the top of the wall in order to give visual significance to the gate's entry and cornice.
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Created on the occasion for the 1986 ceremony for the 3rd cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, held in Marrakech, Morocco, this volume provides a brief introduction to and a history of the city, as well as a survey of its best-known monuments. 39 page with 54 illustrations, including photographs, plans and drawings.