Window to the World

Alison Howson

Merimbula, Australia

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Artist's Description

The Hassan II Mosque (Arabic: مسجد الحسن الثاني‎) is a religious building in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest mosque in the country and the 7th largest mosque in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 m (689 ft).1
It stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic. A total of 105,000 worshippers can gather for prayer at the mosque simultaneously, 25,000 inside the mosque and another 80,000 on the mosque’s ground outside.
The building was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau and built by Bouygues.2
Built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies above sea water of the Atlantic. This was inspired by the verse of the Qur’an that states “the throne of Allah was built on water.” Part of the floor is glass and offers a view down at the sea.
This feature was a result of King Hassan II declaring: “I want to build this mosque on the water, because God’s throne is on the water. Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the Creator on firm soil, can contemplate God’s sky and ocean.”
A spotlight shines in the direction of Mecca at night from the top of the minaret. The building also includes a number of other modern touches. It was built to withstand earthquakes and has heated floors, electric doors, and a sliding roof.
The mosque displays strong Moorish influence and the architecture of the building is similar to that of the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. This and the old Tin Mal Mosque are the only mosques in Morocco that are open to non-Muslim visitors.
Work on the mosque was commenced on 12 July 1986, and was intended to be completed for the 60th birthday of the former Moroccan king, Hassan II, in 1989. However, the building was not inaugurated until 30 August 1993. During the most intense period of construction, 1400 men worked during the day and another 1100 during the night. 10,000 artists and craftsmen participated in building the mosque.
All of the granite, plaster, marble, wood and other materials used in the construction, were taken from around Morocco, with the exception of some Italian white granite columns and glass chandeliers. Six thousand traditional Moroccan artisans worked for five years to create the abundant and beautiful mosaics, stone and marble floors and columns, sculpted plaster moldings, and carved and painted wood ceilings.

Pentax K20D
ISO 200
1/60s
f/7.1
87mm
Original taken 15 April 2010
© Alison Howson

Artwork Comments

  • Georgie Hart
  • Alison Howson
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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