Not quite like the movie :-O

Casablanca Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 15 › view all entries
Leaving Marrakech

Another early start in Marrakech, and having done a recce to the station first time, we got a Grande Taxi to the station at 8-15. Headed to the ticket office and had no problems getting tickets for the 1st class compartments on the 9am to Casablanca. Reading up before we went this had been recommended, and it was a fairly pleasant 3 hours to Casa Voyageurs station. It was the only time we managed to get 1st class, and would find out sooner rather than later that there is a good reason for doing it this way. Train was late by about 45 minutes arriving at Casa Voyageurs.

Our hotel was near the Casa Port station, but it looked like almost 2 hours before a connecting train would come through, so we got a taxi down to the Novotel.

View from the back of the train
Although the roads were very busy, the traffic wasn't as chaotic as it had been in Marrakech. Hotel was right down by the port, and looked fine as we arrived. After checking in we went up to the room and out of the window could see the Hassan II Mosque and decided to head straight there. Really it was the only thing we had wanted to see in Casablanca, there wasn't much else that caught the eye as being ''must see'' .

Walked along the road around the front of the port, and came across Ricks Cafe. Alright it has nothing to with the movie, and is opportunistic, but we just had to :-) . Carried on walking towards the mosque and the area round about it wasn't exactly picturesque (understatement).

Up at the mosque though it was stunning. Walked all round the courtyard trying to get it at it's best angle, but it looked fantastic whatever way you looked at it.

Casablanca Voyageurs Station
It is one of the few mosques that non muslims are allowed to enter, though only on one of the guided tours. We were really lucky that we were in time for the last tour, they run from 10am and the last one is at 3pm, as we had thought we might have to come back and do it in the morning, and they do the tour with groups split by 5 different languages.

One thing though is  they are VERY strict on dress code for going into the mosque. Arms have to be covered and legs covered to below the knee. I had already anticipated this, and taken a long sleeved top, so in the pics it's not a towel that I am carrying about :-)

Went off with our guide and on enetering the mosque had to remove our shoes as we were straight into the prayer hall. It really is amazing inside.

Out of the hotel window to the mosque
The roof opens in 3 minutes, and closes in just 2, and will close automatically if the wind speed reaches 85 km. There are 55 doors weighing up to 15 Tons that are automatic, and it has a speaker system built into the pillars that you would never notice. There is room in the mosque for 25,000 people and another 100,000 in the square outside, though the guide told us that at Ramadan last year there had been 160,000. above the prayer hall there is a balcony to accomodate up to 5000 women and children. It is the third largest mosque in the world, behind Mecca and Medina.

The mosgue is built on recalimed land, and when it was completed part of the foundations were knocked away to allow the sea back in, as in part of the Koran there is a passage about 'The Thrown Of Allah Is Over The Water', or something along those lines.

OK who could really resist going to Ricks Cafe in Casablanca :-)
Only mosque that takes this part in apparently.

In muslim ritual there is a need to wash before prayer, but with such a large mosque they had to come up with something different. Underneath the prayer hall is a room with 41 fountains that people can use. Also two sets of baths, a Moroccan hammam and a Turkish one.

Tour lasted just over an hour, and was very informative, and the bit I liked was when they explained the times for prayer, and when you hear the calls from the minarets, was the time when the shadow matches the length of the thing casting it. Picked up on that one every time we were walking about after that :-)

Coming out of the mosque, rather than go back round the port, there was an avenue that ran diagonally and looked like it  headed to the town centre.

Hassan II Mosque courtyard
Nice enough walking up, but realised it would eventaully take us back to Casa Voyageurs, so started to cut back down towards the sea. From one street we saw our hotel and started to zig zag our way through the streets and ended up at the market. It all looked a bit tatty, but we cut through it anyway,and soon regreted it. Not the sort of place they were used to tourists reaching, and we felt the weight of the stares and could here the comments. Not many places that would put me on my guard this way, but it was a real uneasy feeling, and there were the scooters and biks to dodge as well. It was really dirty, with fish heads scattered across the pavement, and nothing like the rest of the souks we went to in Morocco. 

Actaully felt a sense of relief when we got into the middle of it and found a police sentry box and this was the first time that we stopped.

Hassan II Mosque
Carried on and found our way out to the main road, and here the stalls were a lot smarter and obviously the bit that they would take the tourists from the cruise ships to. There were even wee squares tucked in behind that sold all the leather stuff, hubbly bubbly pipes and other trinkets. Got back to hotel and got changed and went out again along the port going the other way this time.

Found the casino and various bars, but decided we would go back to the hotel and eat there, and get set for moving on again next day.

Not a lot going for it apart from the mosque, and I would reckon anyone going there should plan to get in early and see the mosque and then get on their bike to their next destination on the same day. Not many places I would say that about, and no doubt a few locals will challenge that view ;-) 

 

 

nathanphil says:
Thanks for the smile... finally found time to read your Morocco blog--glad things went well for you... although it seems you had mixed feelings about Casablanca. A lot of people do. Casablanca's gems (other than the mosque) are scattered, hidden and a bit dusty...
Posted on: Aug 22, 2009
sclark521 says:
What? No pics?
Posted on: Aug 08, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Leaving Marrakech
Leaving Marrakech
View from the back of the train
View from the back of the train
Casablanca Voyageurs Station
Casablanca Voyageurs Station
Out of the hotel window to the mos…
Out of the hotel window to the mo…
OK who could really resist going t…
OK who could really resist going …
Hassan II Mosque courtyard
Hassan II Mosque courtyard
Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II Mosque
Casblanca beach and lighthouse
Casblanca beach and lighthouse
Mosque Door
Mosque Door
Hassan II prayer hall
Hassan II prayer hall
Windows in the mosque
Windows in the mosque
Balcony
Balcony
Speakers hidden in cloumns
Speakers hidden in cloumns
inside the base of the minaret
inside the base of the minaret
Fountains below the mosque
Fountains below the mosque
hassan II Mosque baths
hassan II Mosque baths
hassan Ii minaret
hassan Ii minaret
One of the nicer streets in casabl…
One of the nicer streets in casab…
Casablanca
photo by: nathanphil