Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
The Hassan II Mosque is located just North of the Casablanca city centre near the main city port. Built on rocks and reclaimed land the mosque sits right at the water's edge.
The previous King, Hassan II, commissioned the French architect Michel Pinseau to design the building. Pinseau had been favoured for some years by the King and he had been instrumental in the restoration of Fez, the design of Sale near Rabat, and the palace at Agadir. The Mosque was to commemorate the King's 60th birthday and was part of a larger plan to construct buildings that would commemorate his reign.
Dedicated in 1993 the building covers 12 hectares with its foundations going down into the Atlantic The scale is amazing with the Mosque being the largest outside Mecca and Medina and is on a larger scale than the Vatican and Notre Damme. The building boasts the world's tallest minaret at 172 meters and can accommodate 25,000 worshipers and during Ramadam this can swell to 80,000 by using the outside spaces.
Constructed in just 7 years the building took 50 billion man hours to construct with a team of 35,000 workmen. However, whilst the scale is impressive it is the elaborate decoration and detail that is the true star of the show. Designed as a showcase for Moroccan art and craft the building contains the finest examples of cedar woodcarving, Zellij tile work and plaster carving. By using intricate detail with a limited colour palate the prayer hall is stunning.
Slightly at odds is the choice of the Murano chandeliers. Whilst not Moroccan they are consistent with wanting to use the very best that is available and they sit nicely with the interior.
This is one of only two working Islam sites that non Muslims can visit in Morocco so it is a rare opportunity. For people returning to Marrakech who wish to do something a little different it is a 3 hour train journey from Marrakech to Casablanca. The train costs approximately £22 return and is very comfortable but the journey needs to be timed with the tours of the Mosque as visitors have to be accompanied and tours are at specific times. After the Mosque there is plenty of time to explore Casablanca or undertake a little shopping. We can assist visitors who wish to visit this spectacular building. It is well worth the effort.
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