Casablanca, Morocco; Day 2

We traversed the entire length of the African continent from East to West yesterday but we only gained an hour from the timezone gods.  Everyone was asleep early last night and we all awoke before sunrise today.

We are staying at a small hotel in an urban area of Casablanca that is walking distance near to some of the cool attractions here. The city itself feels very European – particularly compared to our recent cites of Cairo, Dubai, Nairobi and Bangkok. Our neighborhood has many boutique shops and walkable side streets.

We had a lovely breakfast which included avocado toast which someone off-camera fed to CreeperKitty.

The kids ate lots of yummy pancakes and Mom and Dad had Cafe au Lait with their meals. This provided the necessary energy for the 16k steps the rest of our itinerary required.

We walked to the Arab League Park not far from breakfast. It’s a large urban park sort of on-the-way to our primary destination of the day. This park is 30 acres and was built in 1913. It was closed for several years for renovations and improvements.

The kids discovered some fun playground equipment sized for big kids like them.

Playground at Arab League Park
Their favorite – this unusual slide!

They enjoyed it so much that we could only get them to leave with a commitment to return tomorrow. And a little rain shower, that helped too. It was a small drizzle that didn’t last long, we took refuge at a nearby cafe for warm drinks under a big umbrella and then were on our way.

Our primary destination was to see the Hassan II Mosque completed in 1993 on the waterfront. It is truly an amazing building. Underneath the movable domed roof sits a prayer room 200 meters long by 100 meters wide. It has the second tallest minaret in the world (seen here from our flight into Casablanca yesterday).

Hassan II Mosque in the distance

It’s Friday and afternoon tours of the Mosque begin at 3pm. While we waited we caught a pizza at a sidewalk restaurant across the street. It only cost 22 dirham (~$2) so it wasn’t much of a risk to buy pizza from a place known for coffee and tacos.

As we sat at the table, the Islam midday call-to-prayer started sounding out from the Mosque. Over the next 20 minutes, we watched hundreds of men and women coming from all directions to enter the building to pray. Friday is the day most Muslims go to the mosque (like church on Sunday for Christians) so we shouldn’t have been surprised. Nonetheless, it was very moving to see the steady stream of worshippers intent on dedicating time to their faith.

This was another destination on our World Tour which was difficult to properly capture the size and detail in these images. This Prayer Hall can hold 25,000 worshippers at the same time. For scale, think of any large arena filled to capacity and then have the stands physically flattened and expanded to allow everyone the opportunity to pray simultaneously.

There were a few places in the main sanctuary where we could gaze down to the floor below where worshippers go first to cleanse themselves prior to worship called Ablution. We went downstairs to visit this area and were amazed at the marble on the floors, walls and ceilings. The detail of the tiles and the masonry was pretty astounding.

We finished our visit to the Hassan II Mosque by visiting the mezzanine which hangs above the main hall. This is the place where the women worship separated from the men. The size of these spaces were amazing and there are two of these above the main hall.

The kids were initially unhappy about turning a rest day into a school day but they were just as awed as Tiffany & Brian were after visiting this Casablanca marvel.

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