Before visiting Morocco last month, I had a very hard time deciding which cities to visit in just a week. Everything I read hinted that Casablanca was one of the more disappointing cities to see in Morocco as its name (associated with the award-winning 1942 movie) carried a lot of weight and romanticized the city. Funny because Casablanca was actually filmed in Hollywood… After much debate and research, my friend and I decided to take the plunge and visit Casablanca.
The Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
Overall, seeing Casablanca for just a day was worth it because of the Hassan II Mosque. Built for the former king of Morocco, Hassan II, who wanted Casablanca to have a large “fine” building that would make the city proud, the Hassan II Mosque was completed in 1993 and is the largest Mosque in Morocco. It is the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims can enter (guided tours only). Best known for having the largest minaret in the world (689 feet tall), it is the third largest mosque in the world after Masjid al-Haram of Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
At night lasers shine a beam from the minaret toward Mecca.
Capable of holding 105,000 worshippers, with space for 25,000 worshippers directly over the water, about half of the mosque sits above the Atlantic Ocean, which worshippers can see through a glass floor. Not only does the structure’s location to the ocean make the mosque unique, but it also depicts a verse from the Quran about God’s throne being built on water.
View of the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Mosque
It cost $750 million to build the Mosque that was completed in seven years instead of the three years originally predicted. Over 12,500 construction workers and 6,000 artisans helped build the design of French architect, Michel Pinseau. The structure includes an impressive retractable roof and other modern features like speakers, heated electric floors and the ability to withstand earthquakes.
Grand prayer hall
The grandeur of the prayer hall is overwhelming! There are so many intricate details in plaster, tile and woodcarvings, on ceilings, arches, walls, floors, and columns. Pictures don’t do the craftsmanship justice, but in person the site is truly enchanting and unforgettable.
Prayer hall arches
Zelij tile details
Pink granite columns
With the exception of white granite columns and chandeliers imported from Italy, all of the Mosque’s materials are from Morocco’s different regions. Gilded cedar carved with elaborate designs comes from the Middle Atlas and pink granite from Agadir in the south. Large gates are made from titanium and brass. The mosque’s basement has numerous ablution fountains carved from local marble and shaped like large lotus flowers.
Glass floor reveals fountains below
Basement with lotus fountains
Outside fountain with zelij tile
If not for the hour long guided tour I know I would not have been able to make myself leave such a powerful, mesmerizing masterpiece. I have never seen a building this large with such intricate details on every surface. Former King Hassan II definitely got his wish; Casablanca has an amazing building it can be proud of until the end of time.