Two weekends ago, a friend and I made the trek to Casablanca, which, despite being the most internationally known Moroccan city, really has little to offer unless you're in the market to shop or eat good (yet very expensive food). The only draw my friend and I saw was the Hassan II Mosque- the third largest mosque in the world (after Medina and Mecca), and one of only two in Morocco that non-muslims are allowed to enter.
While I tried, very hard I might add, none of my pictures were able to capture just how enormous this place is. I'm not sure I've ever seen a larger structure in my life. I guess it's all relative, though.
Even the doors were probably 200 feet tall!
In front of the mosque there's an enormous courtyard with gardens, little nooks everywhere, and some very ornate mosaic work which we perused while we waited for our tour.
I was completely awestruck upon entering the mosque. Needless to say, it was as big inside as it is outside!
It was built to hold 25,000 people at once for prayer, but this must be broken down into just 5,000 women and 20,000 men, as worship spaces are segregated by gender. The women stand in these raised platforms
while the men worship on the floor. The interior of the mosque, which was built in only 6 years (1987-1993), is delicate and ornate in every part of its craftsmanship, with lovely marble floors,
carved, painted wood ceilings, and a view of the ocean out the west windows. All of the materials used to make the mosque were Moroccan save the chandeliers, imported from Italy (where else?).
As if this weren't enough, there's a hamam (Turkish bath) underneath the mosque which is open to the public,
and did I mention it's right on the ocean?
Despite quite a crazy travel experience, due to a broken taxi on the way there and a jam-packed train on the way back (there was a protest in Casablanca against some Spanish party that day), the trip to Casa was worth the trip- going into the mosque was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.