About Hassan Tower
The Hassan Tower, known as ‘Tour Hassan’ in French, in Rabat, Morocco, is a grand reminder of a mosque that was never completed.
History of the Hassan Tower
The Hassan Tower is actually a 140-foot red stone minaret built during the reign of Yacoub El Mansour, a sultan of the Almohad Dynasty who ruled from 1184 AD.
Construction of the Hassan Tower began in approximately 1195 AD and was intended to result in the largest mosque on earth. The buildings were influenced by a variety of Muslin and Moorish styles, from Al-Andalus in Spain, to Marrakech and Alexandria. However, the capital of the Almohad Caliphate remained Marrakech rather than moving to Rabat.
However, only four years of construction had elapsed when the sultan died and, with him, the project. What was built of the mosque (348 columns and the beginnings of its walls) was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755.
In the 20th century, French and Moroccan archaeologists fully excavated the site and reconstructed what they could. In the 1960s, the ruins of the mosque were moved to accommodate the building of Mohammed V’s mausoleum near by.
Today several columns surround the Hassan Tower, showing the intended layout of the mosque. Indeed, even the Hassan Tower was not completed. In fact, it was supposed to double in size, although it’s already 44m tall. Inside the Hassan Tower are six levels, each with a solitary room connected by ramps to allow the muezzin to ride a horse to the top for the call to prayer.
The Hassan Tower today
The complex remains Rabat’s must-see sight – along with the neighbouring mausoleum – and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Look out for the gorgeous decorative sekba panels on the outside and be sure to visit the extremely photogenic pillar stumps. The dawn and dusk light casts a particularly lovely hue over the complex, making it the best time to visit.
Getting to the Hassan Tower
The tower is located in the Quartier Hassan, behind the Mausoleum of Mohammed V – you should be able to stroll through the grounds to it easily. It’s about 2km from Rabat’s Medina – walkable, but with some busy roads to cross. Taxis are plentiful around the medina, so hail one if the heat or chaos gets to you.
A country with traditions from sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the wider Middle East woven into its cultural fabric, Morocco is host to a number of historic sites which make for a fantastic visit.