We arrived in Casablanca after taking a morning train from Marrakech. We had 5 hours before our plane left to take us back to Madrid, and so we only had time to see one destination: of course, the Hassan II mosque.
This Mosque is the only Mosque in all of Morocco that is open to the public. It was constructed in about 10 years, and was mostly funded by Moroccan taxpayers (many of whom apparently proudly display contribution certificates in their homes). It is the second largest Mosque in the world. It can hold 20,000 men and 5,000 women.
We arrived at the train station. A $2 petit taxi dropped us off at the front of the Mosque.
The Mosque is about a 10 minute drive from downtown, and on the harbour. The surrounding area doesn’t look the nicest, and I don’t think there has been much (or any) tourist spillover. At least, we didn’t see any reason to leave the immediate mosque area.
There are benches on both sides of the Mosque, and it’s a nice place to sit down and have a bite while you’re waiting for the tour to start. There is no shade, but the temperature is tempered since it’s right on the ocean. Don’t be alarmed when you hear the police officers with their whistles. They’re all over the grounds, but we never quite figured out what exactly they were whistling at people for.
The minaret is awesome. Apparently, at night, a huge laser-light shines from it towards Mecca. The Visit
Practicalities: The visit is not cheap. It worked out to about $20 per person for a 45 minute guided tour (I believe $10 for students). There are a few tours per day, so make sure you time it well or you’ll be sitting around with not much to do for a while. The English tourguide had pretty broken English, but it was a much smaller group than the French group. Photos are allowed inside, but video isn’t (although we saw people filming and no one seemed to care). You have to take your shoes off and carry them with you. Our visit had a bit of a rushed pace, and didn’t leave much time for taking good photos. At the end of the tour, the guide will expect a tip. At some point there used to be an elevator tour up the side of the minaret but not when we were there.
The Mosque itself is absolutely beautiful. There isn’t a single square inch that isn’t precisely carved, painted, or chiseled. This is the best of the best from Moroccan artisans. (but the Mosque itself was designed by a French architect!) Although the mosque has a retractable roof and a heated floor, it doesn’t really have a modern feel to it. The seating area for the women seems to levitate above the main floor. You can see through the floor to the fountains and baths below.
The Turkish Baths I have to admit I didn’t quite understand. I believe while they’re open for tourists to look at, they’re not actually being used. I believe the cost is too high.