Famous for its Catholic faith and notorious for its controversial policy regarding religion symbols in public, France is still able to show some hospitality to other major organized religions. One of the main religious attractions in Paris is the Grande Mosquée de Paris or the Great Mosque of Paris, an Islamic house of praying, which is located in the 5th arrondissement.
Built in 1922, the mosque is not only a place where you can show your faith in God, but also a feast to the souls which are keen on artistic architecture and history lesson. Located in the heart of Paris, this mosque is also recorded as the largest mosque in Paris and the fifth in Europe.
Mosquee de Paris: History
Sponsored by the King of Morocco, the Grande Mosquée de Paris started to be built in 1922 to honor the North African countries which had helped France in World War I and almost one hundred thousand of soldiers who had died while fighting against Germany in the war. The construction of the mosque was completed in 1926 and its inauguration was done by President Gaston on July 15, 1926. Present in the inauguration was Ahmad al-Alawi, an Algerian sufi, who led the first prayer in the mosque.
During World War II when the mosque was under Si Kaddour Benghabrit’s charge, the mosque was used as a safe hiding place for persecuted people and issued fake Muslim birth certificate for Jewish children to allow them escape Nazi’s powers.
The mosque was reassigned to Algeria in 1957 by the French Foreign Minister after the World War II ended. A major renovation was conducted in 1992 to preserve the historical building.
Mosquée de Paris: Today
The mosque has a 33 meters high minaret. This mudéjar-style mosque presents you with a spectacular view once you step inside. Standing out differently from the surrounding buildings, the view and architecture inside is beautiful and spectacular.
There is a little garden of ten clay pots of bushes in the middle of the mosque with spacious surrounding for you to walk around. Most of the interiors are decorated with mosaics, wood carvings, and wrought iron brought directly from Morocco. The mosque is still active today with Moslem people coming in for prayers everyday especially in the holy month of Ramadan.
A tourist guide is provided for each group of visitors who will tell you the brief history of Islamic faith. A special tourist attraction of the mosque is the marble Turkish bath which is available only in the winter. The bath is open every day but men are only allowed to enter the bath on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Muslim Restaurant de la Mosquée de Paris
After touring around the mosque, you may get a little hungry. Don’t miss the chance to taste some Middle Eastern pastries which are available in the Muslim Restaurant de la Mosquée de Paris which is adjoined to one corner of the mosque. Drink your thirst away after an hour or two walk with a glass of super sweet mint tea.
The pastries are including the loukum without nuts, cresent-shape powdered sugar donuts, and almond cake which is soaked in honey. There is also a bird nest like pastry which is soaked in honey too. It is crunchy and sweet with filling in the middle.
Visiting Mosquée de Paris
The address of the Grande Mosqué de Paris is at 39 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire in Place du Puits-de-‘Ermite area. It is open for visit every Saturday to Thursday from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm. The ticket’s price is €3 for adults and €2 for students and children.