In mid-1985, work began on the construction of the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the most economically buoyant city in Morocco. It was precisely for this reason that it was decided to build it: the mosque, which is the most populated city and the economic capital of the country, should (in the words of King Hassan II himself) have an element that distinguishes it from other cities. Thus, it was on August 30, 1993, when the doors of one of the largest mosques in the world, surpassed only by Mecca, opened for the first time.
On the Boulevard Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, touching the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, stands on an artificial peninsula the Hassan II Maze, an apotheosis designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau, which in addition to being one of the largest temples in the world, is the highest thanks to its minaret over 200 meters high. Its location on the sea is based on a verse from the Koran (“The throne of the god was upon the water”), and thanks to the size of its highest point, the laser that points to Mecca every night can be seen from several kilometres away.
It is a work as gigantic as it is controversial, since during its construction many houses (mostly shacks) of those who lived in the area had to be demolished, in addition to carrying costs of over 500 million dollars, not counting the costs that its maintenance continues to involve, which could well have served to help the neediest society.
A mosque that is more than a mosque
In any case, the Hassan II mosque is a reality, and as such it has space for 25,000 people in its temple of prayer, and up to 80,000 more in its courtyards and various squares, reaching a total area of 30,000 square meters. In addition to its religious activity as a mosque, other types of functions are carried out in its interior, since it has a school specialized in the study of the Koran, conference rooms, large libraries, and even an underground parking lot.
It was designed and built with the most advanced technologies and the best materials, so experts from all over the country and master craftsmen were brought to Casablanca to get to work. The result is an overwhelming building, based on marble, granite and high quality tiles, which has also been fitted with heating in the dream, a retractable roof to allow access to the sun’s rays, electronic doors, and technology specifically designed to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake.
However, as the years go by, being in contact with the sea breeze and the salt of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean begins to take its toll, and not even the latest invention is able to prevent its structure from requiring constant revisions and costly care.
It is fortunate that the Hassan II mosque is one of the few that allows access to non-Muslim tourists (in fact, only this one and the Tin Mal mosque in the High Atlas allow this), even if it is by means of a guided tour. For this reason, it is worth knowing that in order to access it, one must contract a service costing around 120 dirhams (a little over 10 euros) and go to the temple dressed in such a way that no Muslim can feel offended. Of course, it is obligatory to remove your shoes before entering, and it is possible that women who are lighter in clothing may be given a garment that covers their body before entering.