The U.S. Embassy organized a community outing to Casablanca on Saturday, Feb 9. It was a one-hour drive from Rabat, and we traveled by van. The day consisted of a guided tour of the King Hassan II Mosque, which our guide proudly noted is the third largest in the world. It is the length of more than two football fields, with lots of granite, marble and a hand-carved cedar wood ceiling. With the notable exception of the chandeliers (made in Murano/Venice, Italy), the materials are largely from Morocco. It took six years to build and opened in 1994. Very few mosques are open to non-believers; this one is an exception. Including overflow, upwards of 100,000 persons have attended services there.
In adjoining rooms there was a large pool and also separate Roman- and Turkish-style hot rooms.
Outside we took some team photos.
Just above us was the minaret, which is the tallest in the world at approx 200 meters.
After touring the mosque, we visited Rick's Cafe, which takes its theme from the famous cafe in the movie Casablanca. Upon retiring, an enterprising Foreign Commercial Officer opened the restaurant in 2004. The real Rick's Cafe, however, was in a studio in Hollywood, and none of the scenes in the movie actually were filmed in Casablanca. Perceptions and myths, of course, have their own powerful dynamics, and many of us kept asking for Sam, who was absent from the piano.