Last Updated: 2021-08-12
Many words come to mind when I remember the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca: majestic, spectacular, grand… It’s a true marvel and that’s why I decided to dedicate this post to it.
When Hassan II built the mosque, he was inspired by a verse from the Koran that says, “the throne of God was erected on the waters.” So, he made an artificial peninsula to build it on. The views are incredible. It feels like you’re on an island in the middle of the sea. It was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau, who also designed the Moroccan pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Seville. It was inaugurated in 1993 on the birthday of the Muhammad’s birthday after eight years of construction.
The Hassan II Mosque: A Brief Overview
The Hassan II Mosque has become a symbol of the city. It towers over Casablanca. You can see it from nearly anywhere in the city. It is the second largest mosque in the Islamic world, after the one in Mecca. Its 600-foot tall (200 m) bevelled minaret with green tiles was the tallest in the world until 2019, when the Djamaa El Djazair mosque in Algeria was inaugurated with a nearly 800-foot tall (265 m) minaret. At its summit, a 20-mile long laser beam (30 km) is projected at night towards Mecca.
It’s immediately imposing. Some 2,500 workers and 10,000 artisans from all over Morocco came together to make the decorative elements of the interior using materials such as wood, plaster, marble and granite. And that’s where its true grandeur lies.
In the prayer room, 78 pillars support a cedar ceiling that has an opening system. In summer, when it almost never rains, as many as 20,000 worshippers can look up from within the prayer room and see the heavens.
In the lower part of the mosque is the ablution area, with 41 marble fountains and stucco walls. Normally the worshippers use the taps on the wall for ablutions prior to prayer, since these are only used on special occasions. The hammam is not open to the public. It was only built to make the tourist visit more complete. The rich work of Moroccan artisans is omnipresent: carved wood, lattices, tiles, frescoes, stucco and mosaics of geometric shapes, etc.
And some more curiosities… The latest technologies were also used in its construction. For example, it’s earthquake resistant, it has electric doors, its floor has radiant heating, and a fast elevator that gets you to the top of the minaret in one minute flat.
It also has loudspeakers to amplify the voice of the imam that are perfectly integrated into the coffered ceiling of the columns, the impressive Murano glass lamps that hang from the prayer room weigh over 2000 pounds each (1000 kg) and the building has 25 titanium and brass doors.
The complex also has a madrassa, a specialized library, a national museum, several conference rooms and an underground parking area.
To give you an idea of the enormity of this architectural marvel, it took between 50 million and 80 million man-hours to complete.
So, how much do you think it cost? An absurd amount of money, of course. About 600 million dollars were financed by the state, while the rest was contributed by private companies, individuals and the Royal Treasury.
It’s the only active mosque in Morocco that’s open to non-Muslims. However, you can only visit it on a guided tour which can be had in three languages: English, French and Spanish. The well-informed guides explain not only the impressive architecture that we see, but cultural matters as well, such as Ramadan, the separate prayer areas of men and women, and the Koran. You can feel free to ask them any question you want.
The mosque is open for tours every day except Friday at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM, and in summer there is another tour at 3:00 PM. During Ramadan, there are normally only two tours, one at 9:00 AM and another at 11:00 AM.
The entrance fee is 120 dirhams (about 12 dollars). There are special rates for students (60 dirhams), but it is necessary to present an International Student Card, and for children under 12 years (30 dirhams). They take credit cards.
It’s important to remember that the mosque is a place of great religious significance and it’s best to show respect at all times. And this extends to the wardrobe: you must wear closed-toed shoes and long trousers. Women don’t have to cover their heads.
Ah!!! I almost forgot! Since you have to remove your shoes to go into the prayer rooms, don’t forget to wear socks, although they do provide plastic bags for your feet if you forget.
The surroundings are also beautiful. Nearby is a replica of Rick’s Café, the cabaret featured in the movie Casablanca which, although it was shot entirely in Hollywood, everyone believed was shot in Morocco.
It’s definitely worth seeing the Hassan II Mosque, a masterpiece of Arab-Muslim architecture, which, inside and outside, offers a spectacles for the eyes.
See you in the next post! Don’t forget to comment if you want to add something!
Coordinates: 33°60′ N -7°63 W (see location)
Size: Roughty 15 acres (60,000 m2) over 5 floors
Construction date: 8-30-1993
Hours: Everyday (except Friday) until 2:00 PM. In summer, it stays open until 3:00 PM, and in Ramadan until 11:00 AM
Entrance fee: 120 dirhams (general admission), 60 (students), 30 (12 and under)
Where to eat: The Hassan II Mosque is located next to La Corniche, a coastal area with an array of eateries with an ocean view. At the opposite end from the mosque, there is a mall with international food options. Prices are medium-high running from 17-20 dollars per person.