This weekend we visited Casablanca and Rabat. Here are some pictures!
The tourist trap called “Rick’s Café.” As you probably know, none of the 1942 romance starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman was filmed in Morocco. Still, here’s looking at you, kid.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia. This mosque was actually too big to fit in my camera’s view, and all the pictures I took of it only capture little pieces.) On the former king, Hassan II’s birthday in 1980 he had a dream about a mosque by the sea, based on a Qur’an phrase that indicates that God’s throne is on the water. In the next 13 years, the Hassan II Mosque was constructed with (as the Rough Guide puts it) “not entirely voluntary” donations and labor. The end result is the third largest mosque in the world, the tallest structure in Morocco, and the tallest minaret in the world. St. Peter’s, in Rome, could fit comfortably inside it. Its total cost was estimated to be around $800 million. Every surface is covered in ornate woodwork, marble, and plaster carving, and almost all the materials are Moroccan – only the glass was imported from Italy. The mosque employs modern technological conveniences – the titanium doors, weighing 10 tons, open electronically, and then hundreds of speakers used around the mosque blend perfectly into the artwork. Even the roof opens, allowing the worshiper to contemplate the glory of the sky while praying. At Ramadan, 25,000 Muslims fit into the prayer hall, with another group more than this size outside. Impressive and daunting!
The ablutions room, located under the prayer hall.
We toured the souq of Casablanca and visited an olive market. There were more olives in this small square than I had ever seen, and unlimited free samples!
The view of the sunrise from my hotel room in Casablanca!
The Hassan Tower was begun in 1195 by Yacoub Al-Mansur and, if completed, would have been the tallest minaret in the world at the time, at 86 meters. Unfortunately, he died 4 years later, when the minaret was 44 meters tall, and the mosque was never completed.
This site is also home to the Masoleum of Muhammad V, former King Muhammad V is buried along with his two sons, Prince Abdellah and the previous king, Hassan II (of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca).
Next we visited Chellah, a wonderful example of how centuries of civilizations use the same grounds for different purposes. Chellah houses the ruins of a Roman city center – the forum, including public baths and meeting places – and main roads. After the Romans left in 1150, the Merenids built a mosque and minaret at the same site, as well as used the area for burials.
It was a beautiful day, and we spent a relaxing hour in the sun. Chellah is home to many storks, and we could see their dozens of impressive nests from our view in the gardens.
This is what it looks like when Oren tells us about the history of Morocco! On the far right is his wife, Julie, and Oren is to the left of her.
Lastly, Rabat is the seat of government in Morocco, and we drove by the royal palace – we also used the bathrooms at the rest stop of the royal palace – but we didn’t visit it.