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About city Gallery Where to stay

Casablanca, home to over 4 million people, is the largest city of Morocco and also its business centre. Despite all this, tourists usually don’t spend too much time in such industrial, business-cantered cities. They usually come here for the sole purpose of catching the next plane or train. And even though it is not the most exotic city in Morocco, the smell of money here is palpable. Casablanca is also known for its art galleries and modern fashion designers.

Most Europeans and Americans associate the cosmopolitan Casablanca with the 'good life', wealth and adventures. In terms of tempo and character, Casablanca is reminiscent of Southern European cities: hectic weekdays, unveiled, high-heeled and short-skirt-wearing women, and young couples who are not afraid to hold hands in clubs and cafés.

Modern tramway in square of the United Nations in Casablanca, Morocco
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Modern tramway in square of the United Nations in Casablanca, Morocco

It’s also a place where people breathe the smog of daily traffic jams, fall victim to chronic social problems, and spreading shantytowns. Even though the wide boulevards, well-maintained parks, fountains, and colonial architecture make the city look prosperous, Casablanca remains a city of contrasts.

The city had its beginning as a 7th-century BCE Berber settlement, which was later used as a harbour by the Romans and the Phoenicians. It is thought that during the Middle Ages, the city belonged to a great Berber kingdom called Anfa.

In the 15th-century Anfa became a free city and was a haven for robbers and pirates. For this reason, the Portuguese (who called it Casa Blanca, or literally 'White House') conquered it in 1468 and built a fortress here. Later the city fell into the hands of the Spanish, soon to be re-conquered again by the Portuguese. The earthquake of 1755 destroyed a large part of the city.

In the old medina of Casablanca, Morocco
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  In the old medina of Casablanca, Morocco

During French rule the city was revived and expanded. Even before WWII, half of the local population in Casablanca was of European descent, and during the great world wars Americans used this strategically important city to build a military base.

University of Hassan II was built here in 1967, and the city is also known for the Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque in all of Africa, decorated with exquisite ornaments and astounding in terms of size - the mosque can hold up to 25,000 people at any one time, with 80,000 more who can gather around the building.

To be sure, the colourful and cosmopolitan city of Casablanca has to offer much more than just one mosque; it also has a square dedicated to the United Nations, an ancient  medina quarter, a square commemorating Muhammad V, a royal palace, the neighbourhood of Habous, the district of Anfa, and the Ain Diab coastal road with its many little restaurants and pools. The Cathedral of Casablanca – an excellent example of Moroccan architecture – is very popular with tourists.

Kids playing footbal
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Kids playing footbal

The public transport system of Casablanca is very well-developed; it was railways, highways, the Mohammad V International Airport and one of the world’s largest artificial sea ports. Most of the Moroccan import and export goods pass through here. The main commodities are cereals, leather, wool and phosphates. Casablanca is also the main industrial centre of the country with well-developed fresh- and canned-fish, flour, furniture, building materials, glass and tobacco industries.

And after reading this, be sure to watch the famous 1942 American drama of the same name - then all that would remain would be to buy tickets to Casablanca and start debunking the widespread myths about Morocco.

Where to stay

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