We arrived by train from Marrakech to the Casa de Voyageurs main station. I was so pleasantly surprised at how calm and orderly the whole area was and our hotel, Ibis, was adjacent. We enjoyed our last Moroccan dinner Le Riad for dinner.
Tajine Casablancais and Chicken brochettes. In background four deliciously spiced pumpkin, eggplant and tomato salsas.
Boulevard Mohammed V is pedestrian with trams. Old buildings are being renovated.
In the morning we went over to the Hassan II mosque in time for a tour before the Friday services. It was a worthwhile tour, if a little pricey, but maintenance of this magnificent building should be continue. It is the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims can enter.
We learned from our guide that all material was derived from Morocco with the exception of the Venetian glass chandeliers and the Carrera marble surrounding the mighrab (the niche that indicates the direction of Mecca).
Cedar for the sliding/retractable (opening) roof came from Ifran in the mid-atlas mountains. The marble was from southern Morocco in the Erfoud area. It takes three minutes for the roof to slide open to expose the sky and allow for fresh air on hot days.
The architect, Michel Pinseau, was a non-moslem, French friend of King Hassan II. It took 6 years to build (from 1987 to 1993) with 10,000 craftsmen and 3,000 workers working 24/7 in shifts. It cost 585million euros which was partially given by the King and the rest subscribed from the people. It holds 20,000 men on the lower level and 5,000 women in the balcony area. An additional 80,000 can be outside in the square.
It is the highest religious building in the world and the third largest mosque (after Mecca and Medina).
We went to the lower level (basement) to the ablution area where the columns are covered in the traditional Tadakht plaster (that we have seen in the homes, hotels and showers) that absorbs mousture
We returned via a very local and old area through a souk and along the old city (Medina) walls.