AKA Mosques, Mausoleums and Markets (and tiles. lots of tiles.)
I was particularly excited for Casablanca. Probably because I’d romanticized it so much prior to our docking there from that one movie by the same name. I’ve never actually seen the movie, but it seems romantic, so I’d assumed that the city would be as well. The vibe left me unsure of what to think, but the monuments definitely delivered.
Hassan II Mosque
The largest mosque in Morocco, and the 5th largest in the world, the beautiful Hassan II Mosque sits partly on the Atlantic Ocean. The minaret is not only the tallest structure in Morocco, it is the tallest Minaret in the world. This grand landmark was built using mostly Moroccan materials and due to the work of over 6,000 Moroccan craftsmen who even started working 24 hours a day during the last 3 years of construction. We were ushered inside to revel in the grandeur of the building, that features and sliding roof and a women’s gallery as well as the ornate bathhouse on the lower level.
Funny how such iconic buildings actually make you a little sad when you think about how they were actually built. Where the Taj Mahal bankrupted the country, the Hassan II Mosque, completed in 1993, seized land from the residents with no compensation and every Moroccan family was required by law to contribute.
Mausoleum of Mohammad V
This mausoleum entombs Hassan II, his brother and his father. Like many other monuments that we visited in Casablanca and Rabat, it was extremely ornate and grand. To simply imagine all of the artists that it took to build it is mind boggling.
Opposite to this was the Hassan Tower, in a sea of ruins. This tower was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world and the mosque next to it the largest mosque, but construction was halted when the sultan died. The incomplete minaret stands at 43 meters tall, about half of its intended height. Again, the number of pillars ranged from 50 to over a hundred, depending on the guide (we all fact checked with each other for fun at the end of the tour)
It was also here that some teens asked to take photos with me. I felt like a celebrity and will always remember this monument fondly. Don’t pretend that you wouldn’t.
Being an interpreter for a group of Japanese tourists, we stopped by 3 markets. The first was a bit under construction and makeshift- our guide also sped us through so fast (excepting the saffron dealer) that I didn’t have time to take photos. Only to herd tourists. The second had many narrow shops stuffed with various leather, silver and well, just all the kitsch you could possibly think of. I personally enjoyed all of the beautiful detail on the structures themselves. Oh to have tile like this just down an otherwise dusty, narrow street with a feral cat colony.