Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Wednesday, 16 September 2020 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hassan II Mosque (Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside ground.

The mosque is located at Bd Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah in Casablanca. The 9-hectare (22-acre) complex nestles between the harbor and the El Hank lighthouse. From the nearest train station at Casa-Port it is about a 20-minute walk to the mosque. The ten-lane boulevard with shopping avenues has its at the southern facade of the mosque and extends to the gates of the Palace Oued el Makhazine in the middle of the city. The basilical plan of the mosque justifies this layout of the boulevard. The mosque rises above the Atlantic Ocean. The building is built partially on land and partially over the ocean. This siting was accomplished by creating a platform linking a natural rock outcrop reclaimed from the sea, where a swimming pool had previously been located. Two large breakwaters were also built, to protect the mosque from the erosive action of the ocean waves, which can be up to 10 metres (33 ft) in height. A temporary pier 800 metres (2,600 ft) in length had to be erected to protect the foundations of the pillars from the sea during the construction period. Its environmental advantage is that it is free of noise and pollution and receives a fresh breeze from the sea. Apart from the mosque, other structures in the area are a madrasa (Islamic school), hammams (bathhouses), a museum on Moroccan history, conference halls, and a very large library said to be the “most comprehensive in the Islamic world.” The 41 fountains in the courtyard are all well decorated. The garden around the mosque is well tended and is a popular location for family picnics. The traditionally designed madrasa occupies an area of 4,840 square metres (52,100 sq ft) including the basement. Two stories in height, it is constructed in a semi-circular shape, with abutting qibla wall and the mihrab section.

© Schorle © Schorle © Amine Lamuadani/cc-by-sa-4.0 © BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - mustapha ennaimi/cc-by-2.0 © Smartyzsi/cc-by-sa-4.0
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© flickr.com - mustapha ennaimi/cc-by-2.0
The historical context of the mosque began with the death of King Mohammed V in 1961. King Hassan II had requested for the best of the country’s artisans to come forward and submit plans for a mausoleum to honour the departed king; it should “reflect the fervor and veneration with which this illustrious man was regarded.” In 1980, during his birthday celebrations, Hassan II had made his ambitions very clear for creating a single landmark monument in Casablanca by stating:

I wish Casablanca to be endowed with a large, fine building of which it can be proud until the end of time … I want to build this mosque on the water, because God’s throne is on the water. Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the creator on firm soil, can contemplate God’s sky and ocean.

The building was commissioned by King Hassan II to be the most ambitious structure ever built in Morocco. It was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau who had lived in Morocco, and was constructed by the civil engineering group Bouygues. Work commenced on July 12, 1986, and was conducted over a seven-year period. Construction was scheduled to be completed in 1989 ready for Hassan II’s 60th birthday. During the most intense period of construction, 1400 men worked during the day and another 1100 during the night. 10,000 artists and craftsmen participated in building and beautifying the mosque. However, the building was not completed on schedule which delayed inauguration. The formal inauguration was subsequently chosen to be the 11th Rabi’ al-Awwal of the year 1414 of the Hijra, corresponding to 30 August 1993, which also marked the eve of the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. It was dedicated to the Sovereign of Morocco.

Construction costs, estimated to be about 585 million euro, were an issue of debate in Morocco, a lower mid-income country. While Hassan wished to build a mosque which would be second in size only to the mosque at Mecca, the government lacked funds for such a grand project. Much of the financing was by public subscription. Twelve million people donated to the cause, with a receipt and certificate given to every donor. The smallest contribution was 5 DH. In addition to public donations and those from business establishments and Arab countries (such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), western countries provided construction loans, which Morocco repaid!

Read more on Hassan II Mosque, LonelyPlanet.com – Hassan II Mosque and Wikipedia Hassan II Mosque (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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