Day 2 In Casablanca we saw the impressive Mosque of Hassan II, opened in 1993, and second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca. It can accommodates 25,000 worshippers and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. This is a spectacular building located by the sea, to incorporate the three elements of water, land and sky (the tall minaret). The mosaics and attention to detail are mind boggling – one archway leads to another, every turn rewards with light playing in a different direction, with the glimpse of another arch, decoration, carving just beyond.
Later we drove to Rabat, the elegant capital of Morocco and our first Imperial city. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating to the Almohad and Merenid dynasties and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now know as the Chellah, where we visit the remains of the citadel. Lunch was in a restaurant built into the wall of the Old Citadel –tagine with beef and prunes, followed by mint tea. I am getting the hang of pouring the tea from a great distance without spilling anything – and most of you who know me, know that’s a lie.
We also see the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque and Royal Mausoleum in Rabat, with four young guards at each corner in wonderful uniforms. We decided that the main pre-requisite for the job was their attractiveness!
Next we explored the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias, old buildings all painted in an iridescent blue (traditionally indigo) against a luminescent white wash. Here there is also a lovely view across the water past the Citadel.
In the late afternoon we continued to Meknes, taking a drive through Khamtiss (?) Valley, the wine country. I have tried local wines and the Rose is very good (depending on the brand) as is the red, but so far, the white is to be left alone.