Hassan II Mosque

27.11.17 07:18 PM By Putri

Casablanca was our gate for setting our feet on African soil for the first time ever, and we couldn’t be more excited. I have been told by many that although Morocco is geographically located in the African continent, it does not have much resemblance with the rest of Africa. Either in terms of race, culture, or even food. In fact, it has more similarities to the Middle-Eastern countries. It is true that in politics and economics, North African countries such as Morocco itself, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Mauritania are commonly grouped with the Middle-East. Is it because they share the strong culture of a certain religion and speak Arabic so that makes those North African countries have a stronger tie with the Middle East countries compare to their “black African” compadres? I wonder how do the Moroccan identify themselves; as Middle Easterners or Africans? 

As soon as we landed in Mohammed V Airport Casablanca, we were greeted by with this humongous poster, which literally means: all airports in Morocco welcome all Moroccans of the world. Ummmm.. ookaaay, but how about the rest of us that are not morrocans? Not bienvenue?.. LoL.. 

We took a train all the way from the airport to the Casablanca port area, which the medina/old city was once. Since we arrived early in the morning, we had the whole day to explore this side of the city and visit iconic Hassan II mosque (frankly, this mosque is the only reason why we decided to stay a night in Casablanca). 

The Hassan II Mosque

Tiny bits of history of the mosque

The mosque was completed in 1993, after 7 years of rigorous construction work. It was one of the most ambitious landmark ever built in Morocco (well, no sh*te, Sherlock. The grandiose mosque cost the country a big whooping 580+ million Euro!). The hefty price tag was paid by the Moroccan government with the help of foreign loans and public donation. Rumor has it that every single family in Morocco was obligated to contribute to this grand project by paying a set minimum amount, in exchange for a certification of donation. 

Although this mosque was designed by a French architect; Michael Pinseau, and was built by a French mega construction company, the mosque is a perfect blend of Islamic architecture with strong Moorish influences. In fact, thousands of local artisans were involved in the making of the art decoration of the mosque.

Another wow-ing fact about this mosque is the materials used in the construction were 100% extracted from around Morocco, apart from the white granite columns and chandeliers that came from Italy. The mosque is heavily decorated with Moroccan jigsaw mosaic tile work (zellige), Islamic dome carved out cedar wood (muqarnas), and intricate wrought iron works. the outcome of all this extravagant effort plus millions of working hours is nothing but an undeniably spectacular building.

Why do you need to make a stop in Casablanca just to visit this mosque:

Hassan II mosque is the biggest mosque in Morocco and the 13th biggest mosque in the world. It can facilitate 105K prayers at once; 25K inside the mosque, and 80K outside. Oh and the minaret!! At 210 meter in height, the minaret of this mosque is the tallest religious structure in the world. Ah-maaa-ziiiiing!! 

Its jaw-droppingly gorgeous indoor decoration

Its huge and sophisticated doors!

Its 41 decorated fountains that are so big you can actually have a bath with your significant other in it and still have plenty of rooms for toys and rubber duckies. 

Its 22 acres of land covered by smooth granite and marble. 

Its fancy ablution chamber

Oh, did I tell you that mosque also has decorative hamams in it? 

The mosque is located right by the Atlantic ocean, built partially on land and partially over the ocean (isn’t that sound crazy??). Two mega boulders were built to protect the mosque from the erosive ocean waves. These boulders apparently are also used by the local teenagers to fill their free time between school and supper: to practice their daredevil stunt by jumping from the boulder right into the Atlantic’s unforgiving waves and try to surf to the shore. 

Simple tips when visiting the mosque:

  • Guided tours in various languages are available during the day between prayer times. This guided tour allows you to enter the mosque and visit its chambers while listening to the guide’s explanation about the mosque’s history.

  • The guided tours cost around 12$ per person and it lasts less than an hour. A bit pricey, frankly. Plus, the guide will explicitly (although politely) ask for tips (gratuities) at the end of the tour. Awkward.

  • As a basic decency while visiting any religious places, do not dress like you are going to meet your date from Tinder. Men and women are expected to dress decently (cover their knees and shoulders). Veil or scarf is not obligatory, but it won’t hurt you to bring one ;)