Hassan Tower

Kasbah of the Udayas Chellah ISBN (identifier)

Coordinates: 34°01′26.98″N 6°49′22.17″W / 34.0241611°N 6.8228250°W / 34.0241611; -6.8228250

Hassan Tower
Tour Hassan-Rabat-2.jpg
The Hassan Tower

Hassan Tower or Tour Hassan (Arabic: صومعة حسان‎) is the minaret of an incomplete mosque in Rabat, Morocco.[1] Commissioned by Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, the third Caliph of the Almohad Caliphate in 1195, the tower was intended to be the largest minaret in the world along with the mosque, also intended to be the world's largest.[2] When al-Mansur died in 1199, construction on the mosque stopped. The tower reached 44 m (140 ft), about half of its intended 86 m (260 ft) height. The rest of the mosque was also left incomplete, with only the beginnings of several walls and 348 columns being constructed.[3] The tower, made of red sandstone,[4] along with the remains of the mosque and the modern Mausoleum of Mohammed V, forms an important historical and tourist complex in Rabat.

Remnants of wall at Hassan Tower, Rabat, Morocco

Yaqub al-Mansur

Founder of the Hassan Tower Yaqub al-Mansur was a member of the Almohad Caliphate, a Berber Muslim empire in the Maghreb and Iberia. The tower, according to some traditions, was designed by an astronomer and mathematician named Jabir ibn Aflah who was also supposed to have designed Hassan's sister tower, the Giralda of Seville in Al Andalus (modern day Spain). Both of the towers were modeled on the minaret based on the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, but also drew influence from the ancient Egyptian Lighthouse of Alexandria for its height and method of ascendancy, a series of ramps.[5]

Yaqub al-Mansur conducted other works in Rabat, most notably reconstruction of the Kasbah of the Udayas and conversion of the Chellah ancient complex, built by the Phoenicians and Romans,[6] to a necropolis usage.


The mosque is strategically placed on the high south bank of the Bu Regreg river to provide an imposing spectacle visible for miles around.[7] Since the area surrounding was suburban at the time of construction and lacked the population to regularly fill the mosque, historians have been led to believe that it was built to serve double-duty as both a place of worship and as a fortress.[7]

Instead of stairs, the tower is ascended by ramps, which would have allowed the muezzin to ride a horse to the top to issue the call to prayer.[2] At the center of each of the six floors would have been a vaulted chamber surrounded by the ramps and lit by the horseshoe-shaped windows set into the sides of the tower.[7][5] Its exterior is decorated with panels of sebka patterning as well as engaged columns and capitals carved from the same sandstone as the tower itself, but retains one marble capital of Andalusi spolia.[3][7]

Notably, the mosque was given cylindrical stone columns rather than the brick piers more commonly seen in Almohad architecture.[7] These columns were to be formed from drums of differing height, an idea that, while innovative at the time, slowed construction significantly and contributed to the mosque's unfinished state.[2] The plan originally included three small inner courtyards, one in the back, parallel to the qibla, and the other two on either side of the prayer hall, allowing daylight and fresh air to flow in through the arcades.[7][2]

In addition to being incomplete, the mosque sustained some damage in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.[7]

World heritage status

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on July 1, 1995 in the Cultural category.[8] It was granted World Heritage Status in 2012. [9] [10] [11]


See also


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica online
  2. ^ a b c d The mosque : history, architectural development & regional diversity. Frishman, Martin., Khan, Hasan-Uddin., Al-Asad, Mohammad. London: Thames & Hudson. 2002. ISBN 0500283451. OCLC 630140824.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b Rosser-Owen, Mariam. "Andalusi Spolia in Medieval Morocco : "Architectural Politics, Political Architecture." Medieval Encounters, vol. 20, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 152-198. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1163/15700674-12342164.
  4. ^ William A. Hoisington, Lyautey and the French Conquest of Morocco, 1995, Palgrave Macmillan, 292 pages ISBN 0-312-12529-1
  5. ^ a b SALEM, EL SAYED ABDEL AZIZ. “THE INFLUENCE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE OF ALEXANDRIA ON THE MINARETS OF NORTH AFRICA AND SPAIN.” Islamic Studies, vol. 30, no. 1/2, 1991, pp. 149–156. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20840032.
  6. ^ "Chellah" C.Michael Hogan, The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Bennison, Amira K. (2016). The Almoravid and Almohad Empires. Edinburgh University Press. p. 322. ISBN 9780748646807.
  8. ^ Tour Hassan - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  9. ^ "Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage". UNESCO. 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  10. ^ "Rabat". World Heritage Site. September 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  11. ^ "Rabat Named UNESCO World Heritage Site". Caribbean News Digital. 2012-11-23. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2013-10-06.