Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Friday was spent in Fez, and Saturday was a day trip to Casablanca. I'd heard mixed reviews of the city: it was on the water (so is Rabat), it's pretty "westernized" with nightclubs and resorts, it has the 3rd largest mosque in the world, and it's an hour by train. The last two sold me, so off a small group of us went. We first stopped at an outdoor cafe to have some lunch. Very tasty and we got up close & personal with one of the stray cats. Moroccans are very kind to their stray animals. The Prophet Mohammed wanted people to be kind to animals, so they take it pretty seriously always leaving out food, even giving them names on occasion (Rex was the dog that would hang out on our property at night).

After lunch we headed over to the train station in hopes of making it by 2pm which is the last tour (non-muslims can go inside the Blue Mosque, as it is referred, during tours). After negotiating with a taxi driver in Casablanca, we headed over to see this spectacle. And oh my is it large. Pictures do not do it justice. This building is massive.
The Hassan II Mosque was built between 1986 and 1993 for the 60th birthday of former Moroccan king Hassan II. The Hassan II Mosque has space for 25,000 worshippers inside and another 80,000 outside. The 210-meter minaret is the tallest in the world and is visible day and night for miles around. Although Hassan II Mosque was designed by a French architect, it is Moroccan through and through. Expept for the white granite columns and the glass chandeliers, the materials used to construct the mosque were taken from the Morocco region.

6,000 traditional Moroccan artisans worked for five years to turn these raw materials into mosaics, stone and marble floors and columns, sculpted plaster moldings, and carved and painted wood ceilings. The mosque also includes a number of modern touches: it was built to withstand earthquakes and has a heated floor, electric doors, a sliding roof, and lasers which shine at night from the top of the minaret toward Mecca. The huge plaza welcomes visitors from around the world.
After taking some pictures there, we watched some surfers in the wild waves adjacent to the mosque. Then we took a quick drive around the city. You can't really get to the calmer beaches unless you are staying in a resort along the sand. Other than a lot of nightclubs, restaurants, and "Rick's" all you really see in Casablanca are construction cranes.

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