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December 12, 2002
The minaret was atypically positioned in the center of the mosque complex (it is usually at the northern corner of the rear of a typical mosque). The original grand scale would have made the Hassan Mosque the second largest mosque in the world (behind one in Smarra, Iraq). Alas, the pace of construction on the mosque slowed considerably after the death of Yacoub al-Mansour in 1199. The hall and central columns of the mosque were eventually ruined because of the catastrophic earthquake in 1755 (which was centered in and destroyed Lisbon). Today, stubby column bases, some of which are merely reconstructions of the originals that had supported the hall, mark the body of the original mosque. Still, the field of columns leaves quite an impression of how large the mosque was in its heyday.
To the south of the minaret is a sunken plaza with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marked with a blank tombstone. We tried to descend for a closer look, but we were not permitted to do so by an ordinarily dressed guard.
You will probably run into a few locals selling jewelry or tour guide services, but you can shed them easily if you wish. The area is typically open to visitors from sunrise to sunset.
From journal Bill in Morocco - RABAT
August 25, 2000
From journal Rabat, Capital of Morocco