Monday, 5 November 2018

Notes from a Travel Journal: Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Back in April, I packed up my hand luggage and jetted off to Morocco to meet my friend Liz on an adventure; we had decided to gad about the country haphazardly together and we were really looking forward to exploring some of the tempting treasures Morocco had to offer.  We started in Casablanca (the flights were inexpensive!) and while there's not a huge amount there to keep tourists entertained, I really loved visiting the Hassa II Mosque. We shlepped across the city on foot in the heat, and arrived at the coast: we found busy, industrial docks which were sprawling and urban and give Casablanca its reputation as a hub of commerce.

But parting the wall of industry and business is the wide open space of the mosque.

It was spectacular: it dominated the scene, sitting majestically on the coast with only the sea to frame it, somehow beyond the reach of the noise and chaos Casablanca. The Hassan II mosque is the fifth largest mosque in the world, and surprisingly modern, being completed in 1993. Built from light, creamy stone, it was beautiful and almost shone in the perfect sunlight. It wasn’t quiet though: families and children played on the steps, women gathered to gossip and tourists swarmed around. The tiling and decoration where incredibly beautiful and we wandered round, drinking it in.

We took a tour, involving a mad dash across the vast approach to the entrance and back to get tickets. Only to be told that we hadn’t actually picked up the actual ticket. My receipt and some heartfelt pleading got us in the door and everything fell quiet, our bare feet making no noise on the carpeted floor. The mosque was hushed and reverent; apparently thousands can fit inside to pray, men on the ground floor, women concealed behind screens upstairs.

Our tour guide was unconventional: stopping to answer his phone in the middle of an explanation (and proceeding to have a full-on chat) and then announcing “gentlemen, gentlewomen, families” to get us all to listen. But it was lovely to admire the interior, see the washrooms and tread lightly across marble floors. An incredible place.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This blog post is part of my November travel series; I'm spending the month documenting some of the trips I've taken this year, sharing extracts from my travel journal and my photos. My aim is to do this for each day in November as a personal challenge, to get photos and words put together and record some of my favourite experiences from the year. As the weather turns chilly, it's a lovely feeling to curl up in doors and reminisce about travels past, and plot travels for the future.

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