I was not allowed to enter the Hasan II Mosque because I was not a Muslim. Guided visits are available to non-Muslims every day at fixed hours, except on Fridays... hmm I was there on Friday :-(. At least I was able to see a little interior from the entrance to the mosque.
There is room for 20,000 worshippers inside the mosque at the same time. The courtyard gives space for another 80,000. And they can see the Atlantic Ocean. The middle 1100 metric ton's (1083 long ton's) part of the roof can open to create the open space like in a stadium. When the roof is closed the interior is lighted by 50-ton chandeliers made of glass from Venice.
The Hassan II Mosque is absolutely a must whenever you go to Casablanca. I've found the mosque, a wonderful architectural masterpiece and symbol of a version of Islam that is open to the world and to science as the mosque was partially built on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Construction began at the beginning of the 1980s exactly as ordered by the king Hassan II. The entire site covers a surface area of 9 hectares (22.24 acres) and includes a library, koranic school, Turkish bath and large conference rooms.
The king of Morocco at the time, Hassan II, first mentioned this mosque in 1980, when he announced that he would build it on the water, because the throne of God is on the water.
The mosque was inaugurated on August 30, 1993. It was designed by the French architect, Michel Pinseau. 2,500 men worked on two shifts in order to complete the mosque of Hassan II. The marble came from Agadir, the granite from Tafraoute, while the glass was imported from Venice, Italy.
The mosque was funded by donations, and the total cost was an estimated US$800,000,000!!!
Probably you can find in Casablanca the largest mosque outside Saoudi Arabia. The Hassan II Mosque is a stunning piece of architecture and craftsmanship, situated right on the Atlantic ocean. Its location is exceptional: in forward edge of sea
It's also your only chance to see a mosque in Morocco from the inside.
It was paid by the Moroccan workers. Theoretically they did not have to pay but actually they had to pay it (the shade of Hassan II was always present).
There are guided tours of the mosque for non-muslims at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM and 2 PM (2:30 PM in summer). The afternoon tour is not available on Fridays, as the main weekly religious service takes place at that time. Tours cost 100 dirham or 50 dirham if you show your student card. (if you have it, don't forget it)
The outside prayer area can hold 80,000 people, that is if the inside is full with 25,000 people. The whole outside prayer idea is really unfounded as the mosque has more tourists than it does regular attendees. Anyhow it is still a beautiful area for some people watching.
This mosque was built for the 60th birthday of former Moroccan king Hassan II. The mosque is huge and is the second largest religious monument in the world after Mecca. It has space for 25,000 worshippers inside and another 80,000 outside. The minaret is 210m tall and is the tallest in the world.
The mosque has many modern features which include: earthquake resistance, heated floors, electric doors, a sliding roof, and lasers which shine at night from the top of the minaret toward Mecca.
Feelings about the mosque are mixed. On one hand, they are proud of the stunning mosque and on the other consider the 800 million dollar price tag too much.They feel the money could have been put to better use and they resent the fact that the building of the mosque necessitated the destruction of a fairly large, slummy section of Casablanca.
I spied this water seller amidst the crowd in the little garden. I would not recommend drinking the water they sell as tourists are recommended to keep to bottled water only. Also beware that almost everyone in Morocco expects you to pay to take their picture and they will try to negotiate ridiculous amounts of money for doing so. It is best to just tip them a few dirham and go about your way no matter how much they protest.
In the little garden below the clock tower locals tend to congregate and socialize all through the afternoon. This is a great place to interact with the people or for the more reserved just to watch them. You are likely to be the only tourist there and they are most likely going to take a keen interest in you.
Here's a rare glimpse of me relaxing at one of the fountains. Before entering the mosque it is required that you remove your shoes. Remember to dress conservatively and try to avoid shorts despite the unrelenting heat. As you can see I chose to wear a bandanna as a headcovering although it is not required.
In Morocco, police have always been very present. In the past few years it is often less visible but anyway, it discreetly checks that nothing wrong occurs. In front of the mosque, only a few policemen walk across the esplanade, mainly to give information to visitors. However, more substantial police is half hidden in the surrounding.
The figure of a person gives an idea of the size of this whole mosque.
What cannot be seen here is that the inside is light by 50 chandeliers made in Murano crystal, each 6 meters in diameter, 15 meters high and weighting 1,200 kg. The roof, all in aluminum tiles, stands at 60 meters from the soil, weighs 1,100 tons and can open completely in 5 minutes (some documents say 3 minutes!).
On the side, a fountain allows pilgrims to wash their hands before going into the Mosque. Inside, the ablution hall is under the prayers hall and is decorated with large lotus flowers in marble from which water is flowing. With a Turkish bath and a hamman, there is inside the building everything that is needed to be perfectly clean before the prayer. This is the only mosque in Morocco than can be visited by non Moslems.
The other main doorway is equally decorated, though a different in the details. Every carving was handmade and more than ten thousands of the best Moroccan craftsmen worked night and day for several years to achieve the whole decoration. It has cost a lot of money, between 450 millions and 2 billions of €uros. For several years, everybody in Morocco had to give from its own will. State servants were strongly "invited" to give one month of salary. Peasant to give their part when entering the souk with their goods, shopkeepers following their income, etc…
All of Northern Africa is submitted to main earthquakes. The African plaque is pushing against the Eurasian plaque. In the recent past, many deadly earthquakes have hit Northern Morocco and Algeria. In 1755, most coastal cities of Morocco were heavily hit. In 1960, Agadir was entirely destroyed (12,000 dead). In 1969, another earthquakes hit the coast with 200 casualties. On February 24th 2004, Al Hoceima, in the North was also severely hit and the death toll was more than 150.
There is no surprise that the whole mosque has been build earthquake proof!
It is when you are just below the 200 meters of the minaret that it is the most impressive. This new "headlight of Islam" is equiped with a panoramic elevator with glass walls. It was under revision when we were there but it was ought to run again in 2004.
This monumental doorway gives an idea of the way everything is delicatly carved. All the inside walls are covered with carved plaster. The capitals are carved marble, the columns of granite, except the mirhab columns, made of Carrara marble.
I have no photos of the inside as we had not enough time to visit it.