Outing 2 – Natural History Museum, Mosque, and Roman Arenas
We didn’t actually go into the museum, but we did wander around the incredible gardens in the front. The teacher mostly just wanted us to know it was there in case we wanted to visit later.
Visiting the mosque was interesting, even though I couldn’t understand anything the tour guide was saying. The teacher said it was built around 1920-1928 to thank soldiers from Muslim countries who fought and died for France in WWI. The founder of the mosque was buried on the grounds with his head facing towards Mecca. The front lobby had incredibly detailed instructions on ablutions (washing up 5 times a day before prayer).
There are a couple of nicely decorated prayer rooms (the colors in the tiles represent the five pillars of Islam) and a conference room used for feasts and other ceremonies (mostly by women, as they are banned from some of the other rooms) with lovely tapestries and stained glass windows, but we heard the most about the library.
The library at the mosque contains books in several languages and was used for numerous ceremonies and weddings (including Rita Hayworth’s wedding to Prince Aly Khan in 1949.
Finally, we visited an old Roman arena that was dug up last century. It was originally used for providing amusement by watching Christians die in battles, but it’s now occupied primarily by old people playing bocce ball and kids practicing soccer.