Looks like my fascination for underground architecture didn’t just grow on me recently.
I was walking around a little town on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast and this kid approached us in a shady way and suggested that for a couple of durhams he could show us an ‘Underground castle’. the money was well spent – if only for the story. It turned out that this was a vault beneath a mosque – built by the Portuguese to hold water. Apparently Orson Welles version of Othello (1954) was filmed here.
It seemed quite lost and lonely when I visited – secreted away down a hidden staircase, but apparently you can now take tours at the going rate of 10 durhams.
In fact this town was constructed by the Portuguese several centuries ago (called Mazagan) to protect costal shipping from pirates – or Jihadists, depending on your point of view. In 1769 the Arabs took it back and gave the Portuguese the boot. El Jadida meant ‘new’ in the Arabic of the time.
Strangely, Christian church, synagogue and mosques all exist within the town, one mosque having a minaret that was once a light house. It boasts the only pentagonally shaped minaret in existence.