Morocco, continued: Hassan Tower, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and Chellah

Hassan Tower was meant to be the tallest minaret in the world.  Began by Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour in 1195, it was intended to be nearly 200 feet tall and wide enough to allow a horse to carry the iman to the top for the call to prayer.  A mosque was to be built around the bottom of the minaret, but construction on both the minaret and the mosque stopped four years after it started due to the Sultan’s death.  It’s still impressively tall, and as a ruddy-brown sandstone tower it stands out against Rabat’s mostly white buildings.  I didn’t think to take more pictures, and this doesn’t truly do it justice.  Go look at Google images to get the full effect.IMG_0196In the shadow of Hassan Tower is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V; the grandfather and the father of the current king are entombed here.  The architecture of intricate carvings and white gleam is a striking contrast to Hussan’s ancient tower and ruined columns.  The Mausoleum was built in the seventies, but happily avoids concrete and shag carpeting.  Inside is entirely covered in breathtaking mosaic patters, and from a balcony tourists can look down on the marble tomb itself.IMG_0195 IMG_0184 IMG_0183 IMG_0182 IMG_0186 IMG_0187

The Chellah is the oldest human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg river, from the time of the Phoenicians.  Romans built a major port city on the same site, and after them, Arabs used the abandoned city as a necropolis.  Later a mosque and a zawiya (Moslem monastery) were built on the site.

On the tally of personal victories, I figured out the panorama feature on my iPhone, so you can get something closer to the full effect.

Chellah overlooking the Bou Regreg river:
IMG_0240 IMG_0241Inside the walls, the ruins of the mosque.  Stork nests were everywhere (you can see one atop the minaret):

IMG_0288 IMG_0283 IMG_0289 IMG_0292 IMG_0290


IMG_0302 IMG_0300By far my favorite picture of the trip; a room of arches under the sky (I wish it could be bigger, but you can click to enlarge):

IMG_0294At the bottom of the ruins, gardens are kept, and wild cats come to make friends:

IMG_0296 IMG_0301 IMG_0305(Sidenote, on my last day, friends from college, Laura and Theresa, came to spend a night at the Stewart Hostel for World-Travelling Women, so we all saw the Chellah together.)


The Roman section of ruins was difficult to comprehend.  I’m on a quest for history and beautiful things, but looking at a Roman tombstone, touching a Roman tombstone… it didn’t click, it felt otherworldly.  The best my brain can do is a theoretical sense of awe.  I saw artifacts two millennia old!

IMG_0318 IMG_0309I’m not nearly as snuggly as the stray cat, but I have just as much affection for my tour guide:


To finish it off, we caught a glimpse of a traditional Moroccan dance on our way out.  Note the pointy slippers; everyone wears them in Morocco, and they’re the most comfortable shoes ever.  More on that another time:





2 thoughts on “Morocco, continued: Hassan Tower, Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and Chellah

  1. Hi Mary Rose,

    Thank you for sending pictures of the children and your travels to Morocco. The detail on some of the buildings is amazing and the tile work is incredible.

    It is so nice to see what you are seeing. It is taking the trip vicariously through you. How great was it to have some of your friends from college join you? It must have been quite a treat for them also.

    Mark and I went to Literacy Volunteers annual Storybook Ball last night. He went dressed very spooky looking and claimed to be “Your physician of the future on Obama Care”. I went as a witch. Nothing to avant-garde but I found the coolest witch shoes: pointy, black and purple, with spider web designs, and comfortable. Bob and Jackie Morgan joined us and they were dressed outstanding. I did not even recognize Bob. They won the best costumed couple.

    Last weekend we were in South Bend for a big family reunion and a Notre Dame football game. Maura and Dan were able to join us. The weather was cold and drizzly, but if one was dressed right it was just fine. We had about 33 people for the Friday night birthday for my youngest brother who turned 50 and my oldest sister who turned 65. We all dressed in 60’s outfits. It was hilarious and some looked like they just walked out of Woodstock. I am sorry to report that those attending from your generation wore their regular clothes and looked at us a bit fearfully.

    Now to my usual drill: Have you had anything very unusual to eat? Are the people friendly to you? Do you see many western travelers or residents other than the teachers? Where is your next trip? Are your little charges learning English to your satisfaction? What do you find most difficult to date living there?

    Take care,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s