Casablanca is the economic capital of Morocco with the largest port in the Maghreb and North Africa. As a tourist destination however, it is not as popular as some of the other cities in Morocco. The Old Medina is not as popular as those of other Moroccan towns like Fes and Marrakech. But the one landmark that is undeniably very impressive is the King Hassan II Mosque.
The mosque is the largest in Morocco and the third largest mosque in the world. The minaret of the mosque is the world's tallest at 210 m (689 ft).
The building of the mosque cost an estimated $800 million. The funds were raised entirely by public donations. The Moroccan people have a certain sense of ownership and feel enormously proud of this impressive and unique monument.
All of the materials used in its construction (granite, plaster, marble, wood) are of Moroccan origin, with the exception of some white granite columns and the glass chandeliers (which were obtained from Italy).
More than 6,000 Moroccan craftsmen worked for 5 years to create an opulent architectural feast of impressively dazzling and intricate decorations such as mosaics, marble floors and columns, moldings, carvings and painted ceilings. A part the mosque has a glass floor (inspired by the Quranic text stating “"the throne of God was built on water"), worshippers actually perform their duties directly above the Atlantic Ocean.
The mosque and its interior is truly impressive with its huge prayer halls, hammams, ablution areas, pools. The interiors are absolutely magnificent and a true testament to Islamic and Moroccan craftsmanship, art and architecture. I spent 2 hours in the mosque absolutely dazzled by the beauty of the place and personally could have easily spent another two.
Definitely worth a visit!
Photo credits: Abdul Sami Haqqani.