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Mohammed-V mausoleum – Morocco 1971

The Mohammed-V mausoleum is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the city of Rabat. King Hassan II ordered the construction of this mausoleum after his father’s death and accession to the throne in 1961, and work continued for ten years.

Morocco 1971 - mausoleum Mohammed-V
Morocco 1971 – mausoleum Mohammed-V

The builders of modern Morocco

More than 400 Moroccan craftsmen have contributed to all aspects of architecture and decoration, making this building a unique architectural and artistic masterpiece. Construction was completed in 1971 and the body of King Mohamed V, founder of the modern Moroccan state and hero of independence, was transferred to it. In 1983, Prince Moulay Abd Allah, the younger brother of King Hassan II, was buried next to his father. The King Hassan II, the builder of this marvelous edifice, died in 1999 and was also buried in the mausoleum. UNESCO added the mausoleum and other sites in Rabat to the World Heritage List in 2012.

Hassan Mosque and Tower

Esplanade of Hassan Mosque
Esplanade of Hassan Mosque

The mausoleum was built at the southern end of the vast esplanade of the 12th century Hassan Mosque.  The Almohad King Yaqoub Al-Mansour (1184-1199) ordered the construction of this edifice as a symbol of his power. The king intended to make Rabat the capital of his kingdom and have the largest religious monument in the world. The Moroccan kingdom then, stretched from Libya in the east to Andalusia. On the other side of the esplanade is the unfinished Hassan Tower, which overlooks the estuary of the bou regreg river and the towns of Rabat and Salé from a height of 44 meters. In the esplanade, one can see the remains of the numerous mosque columns of the granite stone. The upper parts of these columns fell because of an earthquake that struck Rabat in 1755.

Masterpiece of Islamic decorative art

Mosaic fountain
Fountain decorated with Moroccan mosaic in front of the Mohammed-V mausoleum (Steven C. PriceFountain-at-Mausoleum-of-MohammedCC BY-SA 4.0)

This large building embodies all the creativity of Moroccan Andalusian architecture and all aspects of Islamic decorative art. Visitors can admire the colorful mosaics neatly arranged on the interior walls of the mausoleum. It also used to decorate the exterior parts around the ablution basins and fountains scattered across the mosque’s esplanade. The visitor can also see exquisite examples of the art of engraving on plaster and stone covering the exterior and interior walls of the mausoleum.

Mosaic & engravements
Mosaic & Engravement in Mausoleum Mohammed-V (Steven C. PriceTile-detail-at-Mausoleum-of-MohammedCC BY-SA 4.0)

On the walls surrounding the interior courtyard, the artisans used woodcuts and plaster engraving to write Quranic verses. In addition, the art of copper processing and engraving for which the city of Fez is famous was used in the making of the interior chandeliers of the mausoleum. One can appreciate the enormous chandelier that adorns the dome of the mausoleum.

The mausoleum site has served as a school for craftsmen in all aspects of Moroccan decorative art. This school provided the country with a generation of new craftsmen who knew how to keep the Moroccan architectural tradition.

Visiting the mausoleum

Royal Guard at the entrance of the esplanade
Royal Guard at the entrance of the esplanade (PlineTour Hassan a Rabat P1060435, Size reduced, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The mausoleum is constantly guarded by members of the Royal Guard in their traditional brightly colored clothing. In addition, members of the Royal Guard stand on horseback at the entrances to the esplanade of the Hassan Mosque.
A large mosque adjacent to the mausoleum was built in the same architectural style. This mosque has been used since the reign of King Hassan II to hold ceremonies and religious lectures. These ceremonies are usually chaired by the King of Morocco, especially during the month of Ramadan. Tourists can visit the mosque outside of prayer times while provided they show respect to the place of worship.

Tourists can visit this magnificent architectural monument at any time between eight in the morning and sunset. Visitors can take pictures freely and they can ask to take pictures with the royal guards . The site is open to the public free of charge.

Moroccan post issued this stamp in 1971 to commemorate the opening of the mausoleum.

Reference Number: Yvert et Tellier 623

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