Travel Report: Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca.
Hassan II Mosque.
October 2008. “There’s nothing to see in Casablanca”, a misinformed Australian once told me. Ok… it’s true that the city isn’t exactly packed with sights. However, this jaw-dropping mosque is pretty much reason alone to make the journey. After all, this is Morocco’s largest mosque and the third biggest in the world!
Furthermore, Hassan II Mosque is an architectural delight stunningly perched on a raised platform overlooking The Atlantic Ocean. It also has the world’s tallest minaret at six hundred and eighty nine feet.
The mosque was built and partly funded by King Hassan II during the mid 1980s. French architect Michel Pinseau designed it, after which came a six year construction process.
Amazingly, much of the financing was from public donations, with around twelve million Moroccans putting their hands in their pockets. Finally, the bill came to a pricy 585 million Euros!
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca.
I spent a fair bit of time just wandering around the mosque’s outer courtyards. The design is a masterclass in simplicity. Take note of the smooth marble surfaces and tasteful blue-green mosaic tiles. There are over forty decorated fountains peppered throughout the exterior, while the peaceful mosque garden is a popular location for family picnics.
Accessing Hassan’s amazing interior is by appointment only and it’s necessary to follow a guided tour. Tour times are on the hour from Saturday to Thursday and cost 120 Dirham. Make sure you cover your knees and shoulders. And of course shoes have to go off at the entrance hall.
The guided tour is worth every penny! Not least thanks to the stunning prayer hall, which holds an impressive twenty five thousand worshippers. A crack team of six thousand craftsmen created the building, sourcing materials from all over the country. This included granite from the town of Tafraoute and marble from the city of Agadir. Most noteworthy is the hall’s kaleidoscopic ceiling! It really is a thing of wonder, covered with cedar wood panels from the Atlas Mountains. Even more impressive, the roof fully opens in just five minutes!
The tour also takes you underground to the mosque’s beautiful Hammams (bathhouses). There’s a hugely impressive network of rooms down here with giant, marble-carved fountains shaped like lotus flowers.
Back during my visit foreigners couldn’t actually use the baths. Therefore I had to make do with parking myself poolside on one of the marble benches. Still, it was nice simply to sit breathing in the minty air. In May 2019 the Moroccan government opened the baths to the public for the first time ever!
Looking for a private tour of the mosque? Have a look at getyourguide.com for a variety of options.
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