Welcome to Casablanca!
Last year The Moroccan Tourist board invited me on a Moroccan adventure. They showed me old fortresses, the desert, dusty villages & some of the best lamb I’ve ever tasted.
It was all very traditional, beautiful & fairly magical.
This year they wanted to show me another side of the country. The modern Morocco.
Seeing as I’m trying to keep up my “Yes Woman” resolution and I’d never been to Casablanca, I jumped at the chance.
I was scooped up with a couple of other journalists at Gatwick, popped on a Royal Air Maroc flight & zipped over to Africa.
When we arrived at the infamous Sofitel we were greeted with smoking mojitos.
No really, smoking mojitos. In teapots.
I drink my fair share of cocktails, but this was by far the coolest delivery I’ve seen.
They even play “The Pink Panther” soundtrack as they wheel them over.
Why do they play The Pink Panther? I have no idea.
But it’s cool.
After a few drinks, I headed up to my room.
I always judge a hotel room on two things.
The bed & the bathroom. The rest is just semantics as far as I’m concerned. The bed was enormous and squishy and the bathroom was the James Bond of bathrooms.
I was a very happy girl. I was even happier when I checked out the view the next day…
The whole city stretches out infront of you.
I’d heard from almost everyone I’d asked that Casablanca is a bit of a party city, and that in the day it’s hot, crowded, dirty there isn’t a huge amount to see in the day, other than the mosque. This little thing…
… is significantly bigger up close.
The Grande MosquÃ©e Hassan II or مسجد الحسن الثاني (wiggles eyebrows) is the largest mosque in Morocco & it is beautiful.
The attention to detail is outstanding, but what really took me by suprise was the scale of it all. We can’t build cathedrals anymore because we’ve lost the skills required & architects just can’t fathom the engineering of it all. This mosque is younger than me & every bit as impressive & awe inspiring as any cathedral.
There are hundreds of fountains dotted around the building. Everything just seems to be gigantic. There’s no other word for it.
The inside is just as impressive, if not more so.
25,000 worshippers kneel in this hall at once. It’s built on a cliff top so rather than having air conditioning, they fling the doors open & let the sea breeze fill the marble chamber. It must be the most amazing place to worship. Surrounded by nothing but the sound of devoted followers & the waves crashing outside.
Even the incredible carved ceiling opens up to let in light & God.
The ceilings & mouldings are all hand carved & hand decorated by local craftsmen & the chandeliers are all made of Venetian glass, brought in from Italy.
The mosque is guarded by great big, metal doors.
When the time comes to pray, they open.
Worshipers make their way down the winding stairs.
Into the absolution room, to wash in the fountains before heading up to pray.
Even for non-muslim’s it’s hard not to feel closer to God (whatever that may mean to you) when climbing these stairs.
Visitors come from all over the world. One of my favourite things about visiting landmarks is the other tourists. The photos they take, the memories they want to keep from the day. The most popular pose seemed to be knockin’ on heaven’s door…
Which I thought was pretty clever!
If you’re planning a trip to Casablanca, don’t miss the mosque. It’s a wonderful oasis of calm in the madness of the bustling city. Cover up, wear something respectful.
I went for long, loose trousers, a white shirt & uber comfortable ‘Thunderbird’ moccasins.
You don’t have to cover your hair here, but you’ll be given a bag for your shoes.
More Moroccan adventures tomorrow…