Hassan II Mosque – Casablanca Part 2
The Hassan II Mosque, to make an inappropriate comparison, is rather like being in Las Vegas. The sheer size of the building is difficult to appreciate. Like the casinos in Las Vegas, the building is so enormous that it warps your sense of perception. You think you’re close, but actually you’re no where near it – distances seem small and yet you’ve been walking past the same building for the last 5 minutes. As the largest mosque in Morocco, the seventh largest in the world, and sporting the world’s tallest minaret (with a laser that points towards Mecca, no less), the Hassan II Mosque is an architectural delight, and all the more impressive for it’s mixture of traditional art and craft with hi-tech functionality.
Non-Muslim visitors may enter the Mosque on guided tours several times a day, and as we waited around in the afternoon sun for the 3pm tour, we were able to watch local boys taking advantage of the mosque’s position, jutting out over the Atlantic Ocean:
Entering into the cavernous space of the Hassan II Mosque, it was easy to feel awed by the scale of the place. Huge, ornate windows threw mottled light about the main hall of the mosque, and reflected across the cool marble floors. The central part of the roof, an area of about 100m in length, is intricately detailed with carved and curlicued panels, the whole body of which opens to ventilate the mosque when it’s too hot. Huge Moorish archways loomed above us, and a flock of pigeons roosted about different sections of the hall, taking flight as small specks against the enormity of their home. Downstairs, a massive washroom had been constructed – water fountains like huge ornate mushrooms sprung out of the floor, and the tiled walls were brilliantly decorated in bright colours, leading to bathing pools serenely rippling after a little boy put his hand in the lukewarm water.
This last photo is my favourite of the mosque, and I hope goes towards portraying the size of the place. What I really needed for a building that size was a wide-angle lens, so I had to come up with another way to show it. I caught sight of someone sitting in the doorway, gazing out onto the square outside, and felt that it showed both the size and the peacefulness of the building, within and around which so many people were taking a rest from the stifling heat and sun outside. It also shows off the beautiful arches inside the building and the detail which went into everything within the mosque. I’ve fiddled with the photo a bit in Photoshop, adding what I hope is a slightly more “dreamy” quality to the image with some blurred layers, which also created a more distinct contrast between the cool dark inside, and the bright scorching sun outside.