A multifaceted city that unites the traditions of Islam with the splendour of modernity
A trip to Casablanca is an opportunity to learn more about the different aspects of Morocco. The legend of Casablanca originated in the cinema with the famous Hollywood film starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. Today little remains of the old Muslim city.
The old Medina
In ancient times the old medina of Casablanca was surrounded by ramparts that extended to the old souk of el-Kebir. The few signs remaining can be seen around Place Mohammed V, but they are sufficient to give an idea of its past grandeur.
The new medina of Casablanca extends through the south-eastern part of the city behind the Royal Palace and Boulevard Victor Hugo. It was designed by the French and built in 1923 to incorporate the new rural communities that had settled in the outskirts of the city to the south.
The Mahakma du Pasha, a building constructed of marble, stone and wood and comprising sixty rooms, is a genuine work of art which was built in 1948 as a Muslim courthouse and reception hall for the Pasha of Casablanca. Today it is the seat of the Islamic law courts. Its interior is abundant with the architectural forms and typical decorative motifs of Hispanic-Moorish art.
The Mosque of Hassan II
The most splendid building in the city of Casablanca is the Mosque of Hassan II, a colossal construction and the second largest Muslim temple in the world after the Mosque of Mecca. A gigantic work of art, it seems to float on the water of the Ocean.
The various materials used to build the mosque came from different regions in the country: cedar wood from the Middle Atlas, marble from Agadir (in addition to marble from Carrara, Italy), granite from Tafraoute, and the zellij, small glazed ceramic tiles, from Fez. The enormous chandeliers were instead made in Murano, Italy.
The central hall, suspended on enormous columns and covered by a retractable roof, can hold more than 25,000 worshippers; the square adjoining the mosque can contain almost one hundred thousand people. The square-plan minaret is 200 metres high, and a laser light at its top points the way to Mecca.
Various itineraries take you in discovery of the most interesting parts of Casablanca. Starting at the El-Hank Lighthouse, a walk along the Boulevard de la Corniche passes an uninterrupted series of beaches, swimming pools, cafes, hotels and small restaurants and is the favourite destination of the Casablanca’s inhabitants for their “promenade”.
The “Sqala”, a fortified bastion dating back to the nineteenth century, offers a splendid panoramic view over the Atlantic Ocean. To the north of the old medina, alongside the tomb of Sidi Beliouth, protector of the city, a fountain flows with what is considered miraculous water: according to legend whoever drinks it will return to Casablanca.
Where to sleep in Casablanca
Casablanca is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
Text by Lisa Maria River
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Published Avion Tourism N57
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Discover the city, the main tourist attractions, the most important museums to visit and tours not to be missed, selected for you by the Editorial Staff of Avion Tourism.
WHERE TO GO
HASSAN II MOSQUE
The minaret of the Hassan II Mosque is the highest in the world: it reached 210 metres and was built in water. The Mosque, built in the Arabo-Andalusian tradition, is distinguished by its height and the marble stone that covers it. Symbol of tolerance and peace is a treasure of Moroccan crafts for the nobilty of external materials chosen.
QUARTIER DES HABOUS
An area that combines traditional Moroccan architecture to urbanism of modern comfort systems. It attracts the attention of all visitors of the city and there are crafts shops, cafes and bookstores. Everything was reconstituted in terms of the old Medina: streets, arcades and small friendly places where you can sit and rest. Here it is also the mahkama of the Pasha.
SIDI BOU ABDERRAHMANE MAUSOLEUM
The shrine is situated in a little village perched on a rock surrounded by the Ocean at the end of the coast road. It is accessible at low tide only. Archaeological diggings have shown that it has been inhabited since prehistoric times.
LA SQALA BASTION - Old Medina
An eighteenth-century fortified bastion. Around 1770 the Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah decided to restore the walls of Dar el-Beida to create a point of resistance to European incursions. In the early twentieth century, the fortification of the maritime wing of the Medina marks the beginning of the modern era to Casablanca starting to fit into the channels of commerce of the Atlantic.
This building, administrative headquarters, situated on the Mohammed V Place, was designed by the architect Marius Boyer and was inaugurated in 1937. It is built around a central triple patio embellished with a tropical garden. Two monumental paintings by Jacques Majorelle hang in the main staircase. Is possible to have a unique view of all Casablanca from the top of its 50m high tower.
THE ARAB LEAGUE PARK
The Arab League Park is situated in the heart of Casablanca. This park planted in 1918 is one of Casablanca's favourite spots for walks. The central path is lined with high palm trees, which shade it, and café terraces where you can have refreshments. To visit also, a 70000m² aqua park, another park for all generations, opened up near Dar Bouazza.
THE VILLA DES ARTS MUSEUM
The Villa Des Arts Museum is Casablanca’s first private museum. Inside this Art Déco style residence surrounded by a luxurious garden, exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and photographs, artist workshop, screening of art-video, forums and conferences are organized throughout the year.
Is an important museum that was created in 1997. Located in a large villa, plays the role of collecting and exhibiting any object of workship referring to religion, traditions or everyday life of Jewish community in Morocco.
Mohammedia’s golf, one of the most fairytale corse, is only at thirty kilometres away from Casablanca. In the middle of singular vegetation with rivers and lakes, the golf accomodates several important competitions. A small quiet city, with an incomparabile charm, Mohammedia is bordered by many small seaside resorts of wich the David beach in the north, the Paloma beach in the south and the Blondin Bridge.
Is a small charming city at about sixty kilometres north of Casablanca. In the middle of mind-blowing area, golfers will discover the Royal Golf. Hills, valleys and forests in its neighbourhoods are very delightful. Benslimane has a microclimate where you can breathe an atmosphere of wellness and serenity.
Real lung of Casablanca the Forest is a heaven of peace, freshness and pleasure at a few minutes away from town.
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