After Egypt, we decided to continue exploring North Africa by going to Morocco. The cheapest ticket being Cairo – Casablanca. We stayed a few days in Casablanca to work, before taking the bus to Marrakech.
It’s the very first time we visit Morocco, it makes us super weird that people speak to us in French everywhere 🙂 then, between them, they speak Arabic. Perfectly bilingual! Those who work in tourism speak Spanish very well in addition.
Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
As we were away for 12 days for our vacation in Egypt, our customers were waiting for us impatiently, and it is a mountain of work waiting for us when we return. So, the 5 days in Casablanca can be summed up as: eating, sleeping, work.
We opted for a super comfortable hotel (Kenzi Basma Hotel, 60€/night link Booking) with a long table in each room (for work). There is a Spanish restaurant in the appointment and I admit that we ate more Spanish dishes than Moroccan 🙂 The connection is very fast in the common areas but very slow in our room at the end of the corridor. Fortunately we have a lot of 4G data (more info on Moroccan SIM cards here), for 1€ per Giga.
After two, three days working without having seen the city, we decide to spend an afternoon outside anyway, visiting the famous Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. Apparently, it’s a must-see, if we go to Casablanca without visiting it, it’s like going to Paris without having seen the Eiffel Tower.
We go there during the noon prayer on Friday (the most important prayer of the week). We stop at a café next door to eat our first couscous (Friday’s dish, accompanied by a glass of milk), while waiting for the end of the prayer. We wanted to go in but are told to come back at 2pm. A nice man, seeing us lost, tells us that the visit of the mosque is paying for non-Muslims and that we have to go to the fountains to buy the entrance ticket.
The visit takes place at 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm and 2pm every day (in winter). We have the chance to come before 2pm because we already leave the next day for Marrakech.
The entrance ticket costs 120dh/person, and 130dh if you want to visit the museum. So we paid 130dh.
A visit to this museum is highly recommended, especially if Casablanca is your first destination in Morocco. It allows you to understand the main artisanal techniques used all over Morocco for the decoration of walls, ceilings and tiling on the wall and on the floor.
Hassan II Mosque
At 2pm, we follow a French-speaking guide to visit the interior of the mosque. There are only 3 languages available: French, English and Spanish. Obviously, the French are the most numerous. We must be about fifty in all. The guide is very astonished to see that an Asian like me speaks French.
He is super funny, speaks very good French and leaves us plenty of time to take pictures.
I didn’t know it, but it is the 3rd largest mosque in the world. The two largest are in Saudi Arabia. So it’s probably the biggest mosque where you can set foot (Saudi Arabia isn’t open to tourism for non-Muslims). Moreover, in Morocco, non-Muslims aren’t allowed to enter a mosque (it is a law left by the French), except this one. It is therefore an incredible opportunity to admire this masterpiece so closely.
The prayer hall can accommodate 25,000 worshippers with a total area of 20,000 m2. and the esplanade 80,000 worshippers (the entire complex can accommodate 105,000 people).
The minaret (there is only one however) is the highest in the world. You could even look at the ceiling/dome of the minaret from the inside, it’s beautiful.
I messed up all the pictures inside the mosque. So I’ll let you do a Google search if you need to. Anyway, it’s impressive. It’s a modern mosque (1993), everything is in reinforced concrete (made by Bouygues), steel doors, but the decorations are added on top and made by Moroccan craftsmen, so you still have the impression that it has existed for hundreds of years.
Everything is super modern and well calculated. The ceiling above (painted wood) opens like a convertible (for ventilation). There is a water system inside the mosque, which is operated during certain religious holidays. On the floor below are the ablutions. Women can pray in a kind of mezzanine decorated with beautifully painted wood. The only disappointment is the mihrab which is frankly not as beautiful as the rest of the mosque.
The ceiling <3
The ablution room
When you leave the mosque, you immediately see the ocean. The mosque gives directly on the ocean and is protected by the dikes. The waves are super strong.
Well, it’s a super short travel diary because we didn’t do much in Casablanca 😀
From the hotel, we walk 15 minutes to go to the CTM bus station, for 3 hours of journey to Marrakech.
Part 2: Practical Tips
- Kenzi Basma Hotel, 60€/night link Booking): lots of space to work. The restaurant is always empty, you can work there, the Wifi is excellent in the public spaces
- Visit of the mosque & its museum: 130dh/person
- Internet : 1€ per Giga in 4G
- Cab hotel => mosque : 12dh
- From our hotel => The mosque: the cab meter shows 12dh. It is the guard of the hotel who stopped us a cab. But when we tried to take the cab of the return, no cab wanted to put the meter, and we had to pay 30dh
- I put here the schedule of the mosque visit during/outside Ramadan