The Grand Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
I began my nine-week trip in Casablanca. I stayed for half a day, just long enough to see the Hassan II Mosque and walk around the city before heading to Marrakesh.
When I saw the mosque from afar, I knew it was going to be impressive. It juts straight into the Atlantic Ocean with the tides ebbing and flowing around it. As I got closer, I was amazed at the meticulous detail that went into every square inch of the exterior—the intricate carvings, the massive doorways, the colorful tiled mosaics.
The inside was just as impressive. Unlike most other mosques in Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque allows non-Muslims to enter, but you must pay for admission. Your entrance fee includes a guided tour and you will be asked to remove your shoes and carry them in a plastic bag they provide.
The tour guide walked us around describing different parts of the mosque, focusing on its construction and the amount of people and man hours it took to create. Even more so than the exterior, the interior reflects an unfathomable attention to detail that helps you understand the mosque’s cost; estimates hover above half a billion dollars.
The one thing the mosque lacked, however, was that feeling of someplace old and sacred. After all, it was built in 1993 and under controversial circumstances. Many see the mosque as a misuse of funds, and construction of the mosque displaced nearby slum dwellers.
Ultimately, as an unattached visitor, I was able to appreciate the mosque for its beauty and I highly recommend seeing it if you ever get the chance.
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