Photographer's Note

Continuing my little series on religious places, here it is the imposing Hassan II mosque, located in Casablanca (Dar Beda in Arabic).

It was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau, its construction began in 1986 and ended in 1993. Its name comes from the former King of Morocco, who had the idea of building the cathedral, inspired by a verse of Qur'an that states that "the throne of God was built on the water". For that reason, the mosque was built on terrains reclaimed to the Atlantic sea and actually half of it lies over the sea.

The mosque proper may accommodate 25000 worshippers and the courtyard has capacity for another 80000. Besides being the largest mosque after the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the minaret is the tallest in the world, at 210 meters / 689 feet. It is one of the only two Moroccan mosques whose interior can be visited by non-Muslims, although those visits only can happen in guided tours scheduled several times a day.

Some argue that the King also wanted to give to Casablanca a world class monument. The city is the largest of Morocco, its population surpassing 3 millions (some say more than 5 millions), and the economic capital of the country, but it lacked a monument at level with its importance. The famous "Rick's Cafe" of Humphrey Bogart's character in the film "Casablanca" never existed, at least before 2004, when a bar with that name was opened very close to this mosque (just 5 min walking to the right of the image).

Casablanca hasn't much to offer to the visitors when compared to other more ancient towns of the country. The town only became truly important in the times of the French Protectorate (when Morocco was effectively ruled by the French during the first half of the 20th century), so much of the older parts of the city actually date from that period and although they have some charm, with their tree lined well planed streets and some colonial buildings, that is far from enough to attract visitors. The origin of the name of the city is Portuguese, who built a fort there in the early 16th century and called it "Casa Branca" (white house). "Casa Blanca" and "Dar Beda" mean the same in Spanish and Arabic.

Location (latitude, longitude): 33.60715,-7.6325

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Links to the other posts of the series: Sanctuary of Fatima (Christian, Portugal), Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit (Thailand), Pashupatinath (Hindu, Nepal) and El Ghriba synagogue (Jewish, Tunisia).

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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