This was our first stop after landing in Casablanca. What an impressive and beautiful start to a vacation. In stark contrast to the rest of Casablanca’s crumbling buildings and industrial architecture, Hassan II Mosque sits gleaming on a promintory over the Atlantic Ocean. Relatively new, built in 1996, the mosque is the largest in the country and the 7th largest in the world. Over 6,000 Moroccan master craftsmen and artisans were employed to build the structure and nearly all the materials were from Morocco, with the sole exceptions being the imported white granite columns and the glass chandeliers (from Murano, near Venice, Italy). The beautiful marble is from Agandir, the cedar wood is from the Middle Atlas, and the granite comes from Tafraoute. But, I found the most distinctive characteristic of the Mosque is that part of its floor is made entirely of glass so worshippers and royalty can kneel directly over the sea–this feature is unfortunately off limits to visitors. The idea behind the mosque’s construction above water came from the desire and dream of King Hassan II of Morocco who was inspired by a quote in the Quran: “His was over the waters” [Hud, 11:7], meaning the throne of Allah. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable so that on special occasions, the roof truly opens to the heavens. Thus the faithful of Casablanca can indeed contemplate God’s sky and ocean in accordance with Hassan’s wishes.
A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside grounds. I would have loved to have been there during call to prayer as it was pretty empty at the time but very impressive nontheless.
A definite must see but a few things you should know before you go…
- To see the Mosque’s interior, you need to take a 1 hour guided tour.
- There are no tours of the Mosque on Fridays as the day is reserved for special Muslim services.
- Only a few times during the day are tours offered in different languages.
- You will be required to take your shoes off upon entering the Mosque. You will be given a plastic bag to hold them. You can either go barefoot or wear socks.
- Visitors must be dressed respectfully (shoulders covered and preferably long trousers or skirt)
At 689 feet, the Great Mosque’s minaret is the tallest structure in Morocco and the tallest minaret in the world. At night, lasers shine a beam from the top of the minaret toward Mecca “to point the way to God.”
The Ablution Room
The amazing grand hall.