The largest mosque in Morocco, and the second largest in all of Africa, Hassan II Mosque is by far one of the most impressive landmarks in Casablanca. It’s built partially over land partially over the Atlantic Ocean, with a 60-stories-hight minaret topped with a laser pointing toward Mecca.
But it’s not without its controversy. The mosque was commissioned by King Hassan II as a sort of 60th birthday present to himself. But Morocco lacked the government funds to finance the ambitious project, so mandatory “donations” were collected from citizens — rich and poor, willing and unwilling. It wasn’t completed until the 1990s, after years of construction. So while it’s certainly impressive and draws visitors from around the world, Hassan II Mosque isn’t as well-received by some Moroccan citizens.
Try to visit Hassan II Mosque at sunrise, just before the massive plaza fills up with worshippers coming for morning prayers. You’ll have the place to yourself, and you’ll be able to watch the white granite columns and archways turn from pink to orange to fiery yellow, casting spindly shadows and reflecting off the mosque’s glass windows. It really is a sight to see, if not just for the experience of standing in a silent, pristine, massive open space in the midst of a busting industrial city
Be sure to also step inside the mosque between prayer times to see the beautiful interior of the mosque. With carved wood spiral staircases, grand chandeliers, intricate colorful mosaics, and the most magnificent doors you’ll ever see, Hassan II’s interior may even rival the exterior’s impressive geometric architecture.