Africa

Highlight of Casablanca: Hassan II Mosque

Next stop on our roadtrip through Morocco: Casablanca!

When I think of Casablanca, my cinematic heart immediately thinks of the lovely classic movie from 1942 starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogaert. Unfortunately not a single scene of that movie was filmed in Casablanca itself. So much for spotting some movie sights. Bummer!

But that doesn’t mean this coastal city doesn’t have any other appeal. It’s not thick with sights like Rabat, but it’s definitely worth a stop, if only for the Hassan II Mosque.

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By the time we made it to Casablanca we had already quite a few miles on Moroccan roads under our belts. Traffic in the cities had been busy before, but nothing could have prepared us for the evening rush in Casablanca. It was hell. With a capital H. I’ve never in my life been so afraid in a car. Mostly because we were driving a rental and any kind of damage would have meant time lost and a whole lot of paperwork to arrange stuff. But seriously why the flying fuck is everyone so selfish on the road? I lost count of how many times we have been cut off by someone who had to turn left at a traffic sign but was waiting in the most right lane. WHY?! And pedestrians also don’t look when crossing the street; they obviously hope that cars will swerve around them. Madness!

It took us about an hour – and a decade of my life – to get to the center, which was only a 10 kilometers drive from our hotel. And by then we were both completely mad. We should have arrived before darkness and enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the mosque, but now the sun had long set. So all we still managed to do that evening was take a look at the beautiful Hassan II Mosque before grabbing a bite and heading back to the hotel. Luckily the view on the mosque by night was worth the drive of hell.

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The next morning we got up early and braved the traffic again. Fortunately it wasn’t so bad as the evening before. Thank god! We parked our car in the Boulevard Brahim Roudani and decided to walk back to the Hassan II Mosque first.

This mosque is the only mosque in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims, but you still have to take one of the guided tours to be allowed inside. There aren’t that many tours, so I was quite surprised to see that there were hardly people joining. I think there were about 18 people in our group for the 10am tour, one of four tours that day.

It may be a recent mosque – completed in 1993 – but it’s still very impressive on the inside. The guided tour is also very well executed with interesting facts and some history. Of course for Morocco it was a more expensive ticket at 120 MAD (= +/- 12 euro) but I found it definitely worth the price.

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When we were finally able to tear our eyes away from that beautiful building we continued our route in Casablanca. Apart from the mosque there aren’t any major sights to see, but we walked back to our car along the water to the medina of Casablanca. Through the medina we ended up at the United Nations Square and then to the Mohamed V Square. These squares both have a very modern feel. Probably the most modern we came across on our entire trip.

Close to the Mohamed V Square, there is also the Sacré Coeur Cathedral. When we visited the building was up in scaffolds for reconstruction works so sadly there wasn’t a lot of it visible.

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So if you ask me, Casablanca doesn’t have that much to offer in quantity of sights, but for the mosque alone, it’s definitely worth the detour. But you don’t need more than half a day to visit this city. So early afternoon we hit the road again. Marrakech, here we come!

♥♥♥

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