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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Hassan II Mosque in Casabanca

Although my family came to Morocco for a very short visit and we weren't able to take them outside of Casablanca, we did manage to have a few nice outings around the city! They loved wandering around Morocco Mall, absolutely adored Habbous, (a market built by the French during colonial times that is a cleaned up version of the traditional Moroccan souks) and ogled at the beautiful Hassan II mosque with us. I didn't get pictures of the mall or the Habbous trip (though I might steal and post some later), but here are some images from when we all went to see the mosque. 

Not Where's Waldo Where's Alli??

We weren't able to go inside due to time and monetary constraints, but having been on the tour twice before, I acted as the unofficial tour guide. The Mosque was built in the late 80s-early 90s, and was commissioned by King Hassan II (the father of current King Mohammed VI). Officially it was for his 60th birthday (though it ended up being finished four years too late!), but it also served as an economic stimulus, since all but a very few raw materials were sourced from Morocco, and the laborers and craftsmen were Moroccan as well. Only a few marbles pillars and chandeliers came from Italy, and the head Architect was French (go figure).

The design of the mosque is unique because it ties traditional Moroccan architecture with Islamic architecture, yet does so in a very modern way.

The mosque is the largest in the world that allows non-Muslims inside, but only on the guided tours. The reasons for that are plentifulthere is daily prayer five times daily which shouldn't be interrupted, shoes must be removed going inside because the carpet on which they pray must remain clean, and the upkeep of the Mosque is expensive so while the very informative tours are priced somewhat high at 100 dirhams ($12) per person, the profits pay for the maintenance of the building.

Everyone was duly impressed walking around--the scale is simply massive, (the minaret is the tallest in the world at 210m / 689ft) and the intricacies of the architecture are only visible relatively close up. Casa can't boast a whole lot of sightseeing opportunities, but this one makes up for a lot!

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