Souvenirs from Morocco, Casablanca
Set in Morocco’s historical Casablanca overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Hassan II Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world and King Hassan II’s main heritage. Its record-breaking size and astonishing interiors with splendid decorations make it a magnificent example of Muslim art. Its massive surface can cope with over 100,000 people and its minarets are over 200-meter high. Its modern approach to religious art and its unique glass floors allowing worshipers to enjoy a splendid view over the water won its title as one of the most impressive and extravagant mosques in the world. Visitors can now marvel at its rich decorations and keep a resin fridge magnet as a beautiful souvenir.
Casablanca’s Famous Landmark
The construction works started in 1986 and aimed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of King Hassan II of Morocco. The Mosque was designed by French architect Michel Pinseau and used huge labor forces: almost 1,500 workers during the day and more than 1,000 during nights at its peak with 10,000 people involved in its decoration. In August 1993, the Mosque was inaugurated and it was a successful attempt to create a landmark in Casablanca’s landscape as King Hassan II officially predicted in one of his 1980 discourses. The construction used mainly local materials such as marble, wood or plaster however Italian granite was imported for its white columns. Over 6,000 local artists and artisans created the magnificent mosaics, ceiling paintings, marble floors and column patterns in a 5-year long effort. The glass chandeliers were made from the beautiful Murano glass imported from Venice while the marble, granite and cedar wood were transported from local Agandir and Tafraoute or the Middle Atlas.
King Hassan II Mosque, a Modern House of God
The Hassan II Mosque was created to illustrate one of Qur'an’s verses which claimed ‘the throne of Allah was built on water’ thus half of the structure is below the sea water level and the Atlantic Ocean can be seen through the glass floor. This was also one of King Hassan II’s wishes to create ‘God’s throne’ as per the sacred Qur'an. The Mosque has been modernized to reflect the latest technology: a light located at the top of one of its minarets indicates Mecca and there is also an anti-earthquake system, electric doors and heated floors. Not all parts of the Mosque are open to visitors still tourists can admire the halls used for praying, the hammam, the gallery of the women with its dark wooden carvings and the Turkish baths. A sliding roof can be opened on occasions to show worshippers ‘God’s skies’ still the style of the Mosque includes traditional Moorish elements and Turkish-style fountains and baths.
A Splendid Tribute to Muslim art
The mosque is one of the two Muslim religious Monuments opened to non-Muslim visitors. Its architecture is a tribute to the Moorish style also represented by the famous Alhambra Monument or the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. The decorations of the Mosque are examples of magnificently delicate carvings and patterns all designed as tributes to Islam’s extraordinary art. The work has been mainly publicly funded even if Saudi Arabians have also contributed to the final staggering budget of almost 1 billion dollars. The building of the Mosque raised concerns among locals as slums have been destroyed without any compensation to make room for the huge Monument. International concerns were linked to claims of non-voluntary money donations in spite of government reports. Still the massive funds used have reduced the supply of money in the country and decreased inflation.