Casablanca, Morocco’s most modern city
Casablanca is the largest and most important city of Morocco, with more than four million inhabitants. It is the main economic and industrial hub and a gateway to the country. Its port is the second largest in northern Africa and handles 60% of the country's maritime traffic.
The city is located on the Atlantic coast and has a cosmopolitan and western feel about it, as well as being the country’s most modern city. It is a major destination for big cruise ships, large fairs and business events. It is also well known throughout the world thanks to the 1942 film, Casablanca, even though it was not filmed there.
The city dates back to the 10th century B.C., when tribes in the area founded a village on a hill south of the city. In the 7th century, the Berbers founded the city of Anfa, which was destroyed by the Almoravids.
With the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, Casablanca was born. After the Portuguese were expelled in the 18th century, it adopted the name Dar el Baida and gained importance thanks to its commercial port.
In 1906, France built a large port and general Lyautey turned the city into the economic capital of the country.
Since the country gained independence, Casablanca has not stopped growing both in population and economic and commercial importance.
Getting to Casablanca
Casablanca is one of Morocco's best-connected cities to the rest of the world. Mohammed V International Airport is the busiest gateway and is connected to many European, American and, of course, African cities.
It is also well-connected by train. Most travellers arrive at Casa Voyageurs station from cities such as Tangier, Fez and Marrakesh.
By car, there is a toll road that goes from Tangier to El Jadida, passing through Casablanca and Rabat.
What to see in Casablanca
The Hassan II Mosque is the most famous monument of the city. It is an enormous mosque located on the beach, near the port and medina, and has a minaret that measures 200 meters in height. In fact, it is the tallest minaret in the world. It is fitted with a laser beam at the top which is pointed in the direction of Mecca and has a range of 30 kilometres.
It is truly enormous, with a large prayer room capable of accommodating 25,000 worshippers and a square which can hold a further 80,000. The inside and outside are equally majestic, displaying amazing attention to detail, especially the roof, which can be opened so the sky is reflected in the water of the fountain in the courtyard.
This area of the city is full of buildings with mixed architectural styles such as modernist, art deco and Moorish. We recommend Place des Nations Unies, which is the nerve centre of the city.
Mohamed V Square is the most important and liveliest square in the city and boasts some of the largest buildings from the colonial era, such as the Courthouse, the Central Post Office and the French Consulate.
The New Medina
This is the perfect place for buying craft products, fabrics, spices, etc. It was built to replace an old quarter and the architecture is Arabic. Just by the medina is the Mers Sultan district, a very lively area of Casablanca. It is the second heart of the city, full of shops, cafes and restaurants and is an ideal place for mingling with locals.
This is a promenade full of hotels, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, etc., and is a playground for the city's inhabitants with its great nightlife. There is luxury all around and it is a place to see and be seen. Highlights in this area include El Hank Lighthouse, the mausoleum of Sidi Bou Abderrahmane, and of course, the huge Morocco Mall, the largest shopping centre in Africa.
Shopping in Casablanca
Being such a touristy city, Casablanca is the perfect place for buying all sorts of typical Moroccan handicrafts and products. Depending on where you go, you'll find a wide range of prices, but with good haggling skills you can find some great bargains.
The best place to shop is the New Medina, which has all sorts of stalls selling traditional products. Here, in the souk, you’ll find everything you can imagine. There is also a copper souk, where all kinds of copper and brass objects are sold, including typical carved trays.
For fashion lovers, the city has a significant textile and fur industry. The best places to buy clothes and accessories is Rue Prince Moulay Abdellah. The best place for international brands is the Morocco Mall.