By Sarah Fauska
By Sarah Fauska
Chicago – Casablanca is similar to any modern day developing industrial city, just lacking the massive skyscrapers and updated infrastructure. It is the largest city in Morocco and conveniently located next to the Atlantic Ocean making it a major shipping port.
With its close proximity to Europe and easy access to the rest of Africa, it is an ideal stop for many international travelers before they continue their journey. The city offers a wide variety of things to do, including miles of public beaches and the largest mall in Africa. Though these are appealing attractions, the most captivating and convincing reason to visit Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque.
Towering over the ocean, this magnificent structure is easily seen from miles away. Commissioned by King Hassan II on July 9, 1980 and completed on August 30, 1993, the mosque emulates Moroccan culture and identity. A massive achievement and structure, the courtyard surrounding the mosque has the capacity to hold 80,000 people and the mosque itself can accommodate up to 25,000 people. Next to the mosque, rising into the sky, the minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 meters. During the night, laser beams shoot towards Mecca to aid worshippers with the city’s correct direction.
Inspired by a quote in the Quran stating, “His was over the water” (Hud, 11:7), roughly half of the mosque is built over the Atlantic Ocean. Hassan II explained that, “[he] wish[es] Casablanca to be endowed with a large, fine building of which it can be proud until the end of time… [He] want[s] to build this mosque on the water, because God’s throne is on the water.
Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the creator on firm soil, can contemplate God’s sky and ocean”. This dual relationship between water and land is truly evident in some areas of the mosque that have glass floors allowing worshippers to pray directly over and look upon the ocean.
Exemplifying Morocco, the mosque is fashioned out of materials from around the country. This includes marble from Agadir, cedar from the Middle Atlas and granite from Tafraoute. The only imported items are glass from Venice used in the chandeliers and white granite used for the columns.
Though enormous and daunting in size, extremely detailed mosaics, woodworking and stone carvings on a minute level are found throughout the premise. During construction, roughly 6,000 craftsmen and artists worked round the clock to fashion these decorative features. With a retractable roof, heated floors, two hammams and a washing area, it offers a wide range of amenities for all visitors.
Built to withstand earthquakes and erosion, this colossal monument is undeniably constructed to endure time. So if you are ever near the region or planning a trip to Morocco, I highly recommend making the stop in Casablanca to experience the absolute wonder and splendor of the Hassan II Mosque.