We began our recent two week trip to Morocco with a flight into Casablanca. Karen had been in Morocco 12 or so years ago, and was taken to see the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. However the tour guide had failed to confirm that the mosque was open for visitors! So Karen was insistent that we visit the mosque on this trip, and it was open indeed.
On his birthday in 1980, the Moroccan king (King Hassan II) declared that the great Hassan II Mosque was to be commissioned and built giving Casablanca a unique monument. The construction of the mosque, designed by French architect Michael Pinseau, began in 1986 on reclaimed land in a dilapidated area near the ocean front. It was completed in August 1993. Almost all the materials in the mosque come from Morocco, except for the imported white granite columns and glass chandeliers (from Murano near Venice). The cedar comes from the Middle Atlas and the granite from Tafraoute.
Over 6000 Moroccan masters and artisans were employed to work these local materials into intricate decorations that embellish the entire structure.
About the Mosque
The Mosque is magnificent in size and in the quality of the building. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world after the Great Mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.
The minaret at 210 meters is the tallest in the world. A maximum of 105,000 believers can gather for prayer; up to 25,000 can be accommodated in the prayer hall, while 80,000 can be accommodated on the esplanade. The main prayer hall measures 100 meters by 200 meters, and is 65 meters high (all three measurements dd up to 365).
What to See
The mosque is open to all Muslims during prayer times. Non-Muslims can enter on tours that are held several times per day. The most distinctive feature of the mosque is its spectacular location on a platform above the Atlantic. Part of the floor is made of glass, so that worshipers can kneel right above the sea.
The style of the Mosque shows strong Moorish influences reminiscent of the Alhambra and Mezquita in Spain. Horseshoe arches are common both inside and inside, and the walls and pillars of the interior are finely carved in a variety of intricate patterns. There is a huge women’s gallery to the right as one turns from the prayer area, which is beautifully carved out of dark wood. On the ground floor, there are Turkish style baths and fountains for washing.