Experience Casablanca — a Blend of History, Culture and Commerce
Casablanca is not just the name of one of the most famous films from Hollywood’s Golden Era, but also an important port city by the Atlantic Ocean in Morocco that’s home to more than 3.3 million people. It’s a treasure trove of sights, experiences and encounters that promises a thrilling time for tourists when they come to the country’s largest metropolis.
Visitors to Casablanca — Spanish for “white house”, (although up to the mid-1700s the city was known as Anfa, meaning “hill”) — see the legacy of the French influence during their colonial time in Morocco between 1912-1956. During that period, unique Mauresque architecture developed, blending Berber, Moorish and European Art Deco styles.
Today, global commerce and finance drive Casablanca, and its port has become one of the largest in the world. For the visitor, there’s still lots to see, and here are some of the top things to do in Casablanca, Morocco.
- Hassan II Mosque: This mosque is the largest Islamic place of worship in all of Africa, and among the biggest in the world. It has the second tallest minaret found anywhere, towering to 210 meters, decked out with a laser whose light points the way to Mecca. Not surprisingly, the Hassan II Mosque — named after the late King Hassan, and built to honour King Mohammed V, who died in 1961 — is the dominant and focal point in Casablanca. Covering nine hectares, it juts out into the sea. The building, which was only completed in 1993, can hold an astonishing 25,000 people inside and accommodate a further 80,000 in the grounds. This imposing and towering structure is well worth a visit.
- Central Market: Just as in the other major cities of Morocco, Casablanca has its own famous and large marketplace, called Central Market. It’s a must-see for any tourist visiting the city. As you wander around the Neo-Mauresque architecture structure and its many vendors, you’ll find everything under the sun — from fresh fruit and vegetables to handcrafted items, lamps, shoes, flowers, trinkets and much more. It’s noisy, brash, a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours — and fun to just walk through, haggle for something or snap some photos.
- Old Medina: The Old Medina of Casablanca is where the authentic Moroccan part of the city lies — compared to much of the rest, which is heavily influenced by the French and their time in the country. The Old Medina was left largely untouched by the French and here you can walk around the ancient streets and see all the various sellers and their wares. You can take a guided tour of the Old Medina, which can be organised by your hotel or tour company. It’s advisable to take care of your belongings because the area is crowded and there may be pickpockets.
Other places of interest in Casablanca include the imposing Cathedral du Sacre Coeur (or just Casablanca Cathedral) with its blend of Art Deco and Gothic Revival architecture. Then there is the serene Place Mohamed V, the city’s central plaza surrounded by many important buildings and the Corniche, or beach area of the city, where you can soak up the Moroccan sun and dine at great restaurants and party at lush beach clubs.
And don’t forget to drop into Rick’s Café — a “gin joint” designed to recreate the glory of the Bogart-Bergman film that brought Casablanca to the world and immortalised it with such memorable lines as “Here’s looking at you, kid”. You could say the same for the city.
You can visit Casablanca as part of tours of Morocco arranged by Desert Majesty. Get in touch now and plan your great Moroccan adventure.