Explore Casablanca

Casablanca Travel Guide

Just looking at the city, there's no need to guess where the port-city of Casablanca, meaning 'white house' in Spanish, got its name. Made famous by the eponymous classic film, starring Humphrey Bogart, this cosmopolitan, white-walled city is Morocco's largest and most modern city. Casablanca is not oriented towards tourists as much as Morocco's other large cities, but under the hustle, bustle, and grit lies a unique and charismatic history waiting to be discovered.<br /><br /> Founded by Berber fisherman over two thousand years ago, Casablanca was used by both the Phoenicians, Romans as a port. The Portuguese then took over but after destroying the city and rebuilding it, they abandoned it in the aftermath of an earthquake. The city went on to be rebuilt as (Arabic for Casablanca) by a Moroccan sultan, and was then given the name Casablanca by the Spanish traders who used the port, and it retains this function today as one of Africa's largest and most important ports.<br /><br /> As a centre for trade and, consequently, the mixing of cultures, Casablanca is unlike any other Moroccan city. Many women ditch the conservative clothing and dress themselves in the latest designer accoutrement. The infrastructure is modern and the city sophisticated. Casablanca is where Morocco's youth move to make something of their lives and is the centre for international trade and big business. For a glimpse of its history, downtown is the perfect place to admire the blend of French colonial architecture and traditional Moroccan design.<br /><br />

The King Hassan II Mosque

Address: Casablanca

One of the largest mosques in the world, and the largest in Morocco, the King Hassan II Mosque was designed by French architect, Michel Pinseau. It is affectionately nicknamed the 'Casablanca Hajj'. Perched on the edge of the city of Casablanca, this picturesque structure looks out over the Atlantic Ocean and features one of the world's tallest minarets, towering at 689 feet (210m). The minaret is 60 storeys high and topped by a laser which points towards Mecca.<br /><br /> Almost half of the massive mosque lies over the Atlantic, and the water can be seen through a gigantic glass floor. This feature was inspired by a verse in the Qur'an: 'the throne of God was built on water'. The mosque can accommodate over 100,000 worshippers. The design is a mixture of classic Islamic architecture and Moroccan elements and it was worked on by hundreds of Morocco's best craftsmen, finally being inaugurated in 1993. The massive cost of building such an impressive mosque was a source of contention in the poor country, but it is now viewed with pride by locals and is a popular tourist attraction. Thankfully, the Hassan II mosque is open to non-Muslims, but to explore the magnificent interior you must take a guided tour which can be conducted in several languages. Visitors will be expected to dress appropriately and will have to remove their shoes.<br /><br />

The Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman

Address: Casablanca

Located past the ocean-side neighbourhood of the Corniche, the Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman is built on a rock out at sea and is only accessible at low tide. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the shrine, but travellers wishing to explore the tiny neighbourhood around it are permitted to do so. Most visitors just opt to admire it from a distance, catching a glimpse of the shrine and its breathtaking white walls while walking along the beach. Traditionally, people visit this shrine to heal mental illness and it is one of Morocco's most famous coastal shrines.<br /><br /> The Corniche was once a thriving resort area and there are still many hotels, nightclubs and restaurants lining the coastal boulevard (Boulevard de la Corniche), but many of these now look somewhat rundown and there is a sense that the place is past its prime. The Boulevard de l'Ocean Atlantique is now the more glamourous street, where newer and more upmarket accommodation can be found. One thing the Corniche neighbourhood does have in abundance is international fast food chains and this in combination with the American-style movie theatre makes it a good place to visit for those needing a comforting taste of home.<br /><br />

Casablanca Twin Centre

Address: Casablanca

Designed by a Spanish architect, the Casablanca Twin Centre features two skyscrapers which are 28-storeys tall and tower above the city at 377 feet (115m). Known as La Grande Casa, the buildings house offices, businesses, a five-storey shopping mall and a luxury, five star hotel. The towers are the tallest buildings in the city and are situated in the Maarif district, at the intersection between Zerktouni Boulevard and Al Massira Al Khadra Boulevard.<br /><br /> The two towers, named the East Tower and the West Tower, are joined at the lower levels by a large complex which contains the bulk of the shopping centre. Above this section, the East Tower contains the five-star Kenzi Tower Hotel, while the West Tower holds part of the shopping centre and offices. The spa, bar and restaurant facilities in the hotel are open to non-residents and the panoramic restaurant on the 27th floor is particularly popular. The locals are proud of the building because it represents the modernisation of Casablanca, and it is a great attraction for tourists looking to do some shopping, fine dining, or just to get some wonderful views of the city.<br /><br />

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