Casablanca, Day 02 The Hassan II Mosque
Casablanca Travel Blog› entry 70 of 92 › view all entries
On day two, I pick up right where I left off, at the Scrap Market on the west side of the Old Medina. Today I feel like enjoying wide open spaces… so I’m going to follow the western coastline… all the way to the end of the city…
Discovery 013: Derb Abdellah
On the west side of the old medina are a couple of “derbs” or neighborhoods that are sort of like “Old Medina Annexes”… they’ve got the Old Medina, gritty, bustling feel but they’re outside the city walls and the alleys are laid out in straight lines, rather than in random zigzags.
The two main alleys in Derb Abdellah are lively strips that churn with life long after much of the rest of the city has gone to sleep at night… lined with a motley assortment of shops and cheap eateries. Entering this neighbourhood from the nearby more upscale neighborhoods to the west, feels like you’re suddenly entering another world…
014: Derb Abdellah Side Alleys
The long, straight, very narrow side alleys of
Suddenly I reach a wide open area with a couple of half demolished buildings in the center… This was once another neighbourhood that must have been even more ghettoish than Derb Abdellah, which has now been demolished and people moved elsewhere… Perhaps
I follow the long, gritty market street back north… Behind me I hear cursing and the tinkling of broken glass as a couple of locals get into a traditional Old Medina brawl…
See you later, Old
015: The Hassan II Mosque
Just a few steps outside the grittiest, scruffiest neighborhoods of
I’ve had the good fortune of living right close to this mosque and have been able to see it in all kinds of different ways… enveloped in a shroud of mist… lit up at nighttime… silhouetted at sunrise… churning with 100,000 worshippers at the Eid Kbir morning prayers… I still find I’m inspired by its grandeur.
Of course, it came with a hefty price tag, and all Moroccan families in the entire country were required to contribute to its construction… so locals tend to have mixed feelings about it…
It’s surrounded by the sea on three sides and an enormous square on the southside lined with gardens and columned walkways… It would be a very nice place to play some music-- but playing music near a mosque is not acceptable here in
So… I’ve “officially” added the Hassan II Mosque as Number 015 Place to Discover in
West of the Mosque, there is a seawall and a rocky coastal strip with interesting diagonal rock formations jutting out from the sea.
One thing that’s nice to see here is the large number of women you see out walking and jogging… older women-- even veiled-head-to-toe women… This is something that was very unthought of 15 years ago here in
017: El Hank Neighborhood
At the end of the
In the middle it has a large, beautiful mosque and a little commercial circle.
It has a scruffy park where I decide to go ahead and have my first music session of the day. The night watchman comes around to listen-- but I think, just because he’s bored…
Music Spot 05: El
Quiet, but dirty, no shade and a rather unsafe feel to the neighborhood.
018: The Lighthouse
Across the street from El Hank is a little rocky peninsula with a lighthouse… It deserves to be counted as a discovery…
A little bit further is the first Westside beach--
Across the street is another park where I sit down for another session…
Music Spot 06:
Quiet and fairly safe, but not any shade
020: Islamic School
A little further up the coast, past an enormous construction project, is a beautiful white, green and gold mosque surrounded by an Islamic School funding by Saudi Arabian royalty.
021: La Corniche
Next is “La Corniche”,
In fact, much of La Corniche’s real estate is still undeveloped with a lot of empty lots. Still, it’s a very pleasant place for a stroll-- and another music session…
Music Spot 07: La Corniche, Rating: ***
Very classy and clean, but little shade…
Afterwards I stop for a glass of mixed fruit juice… which, to my surprise is the same price as fruit juice in town!
After La Corniche, finally comes a long stretch of sandy coast… plenty of space to relax, swim, or jog… Not a lot of cafés or businesses along the street, and this stretch of beach clearly just caters to locals… still it’s a nice discovery-- and probably the best beach in
023: Sidi Abderrahman Shrine
At the far end of
This shrines are Morocco’s “no frills” tourism spots, folks go to relax it tiny little rooms, sip tea eat tagines and maybe get a henna tattoo-- definitely catering to the natives rather than foreign tourist…
Perched on the rocks overlooking the surf, a couple of guys ask me to play a few songs for them… so I add one last music session to my collection…
Music Spot 08: Sidi Abderrahman, Rating: **
Not really the place I’d typically play music-- only did it by request…
And so, I achieve my quest of hiking the shore to the west end of town.