Not only because of its architecture, French influence or storied history, but because its multi-cultural inhabitants hail from all over Morocco and the international community, creating this noisy yet heartwarming melting pot.
Our top 10 reasons to visit Casablanca, Morocco's largest city
Casablanca is a city of contrast. Founded in the 10th century and settled by the Amazigh, Anfa (as it was then known) is the largest city in Morocco, famed for its port. What we now know as Casablanca, or Casa as locals love to call it, is a relatively new city compared to Morocco’s other Imperial Cities. But it has soul.
Make your first stop Marche Central, the main marketplace in town. It is a fascinating site located in a colonial neighborhood built by the French in 1917. The architecture has a Neo-Moorish flair - distinct in its intricacies - and remains an unmissable shopping center for the people of Casa.
The fish section in particular is an especially memorable experience. You can sample the famous Oualidia or Dakhla oysters on-the-go from the Hajjates, or respected women who manage the market’s oyster business.
Enjoy fresh-caught fish and have it prepared right in front of you -- fried or in a tagine.
Art Deco Architecture
Continue along Mohammed V Boulevard, glancing up to take in the gorgeous Art Deco buildings. Although many of them have not been properly preserved, their charm - evocative of an earlier era - is still apparent. Farther up, enjoy the breathtaking, restored colonial homes and buildings of Boulevard Rachidi. Feeling hungry? Stop off at the hotel Le Doge for a delicious bite with an amazing view.
"Discovering Casa is an awakening experience in every sense... definitely add Casa to your list..."
HASSAN II MOSQUE / ISTOCK.COM
“With its intricate wood, marble, mosaic and zellige facets, it showcases the magnificence of Moroccan craftsmanship...”
The Church of the Sacred Heart
Visible from multiple locations in Casablanca, Sacred Heart is a former Roman Catholic church built in 1911. Today, it has been transformed into an unusual home for concerts and touring art exhibitions. Outside these events, the church is still open, and we’d highly recommend checking out the beautiful stained glass windows and stunning Gothic architecture. Feeling fit? Climb up hundreds of steps for truly magical views of the city.
Arab League Park
Located just in front of the Sacred Heart, the Arab League Park is one of the biggest green spaces in the city (it also reinvigorates with an expanse of fresh air!). Although being in the city center surrounded by a very busy boulevard, the park is still ideal for a quiet walk, or lying back with a book. Note that some parts are still closed for renovation.
Mohamed V Square
Built in 1920, the buildings are a mix of typical Moorish architecture crossed with modern Art Deco aesthetic. Many of the most notable buildings are found here, like the Bank Al Maghrib, La Grande Poste, the courthouse and more. It is the most famous square in the city where people enjoy family strolls throughout the week. The fact that the space has a large fountain surrounded by pigeons makes it a great entertainment for kids.
Hassan II Mosque
This majestic mosque is the pride and symbol of Casablanca. It stands facing toward the wild Atlantic Ocean it was built over. With its intricate wood, marble, mosaic, and zellige facets, it showcases the magnificence of Moroccan craftsmanship. The building was created by 10,000 artisans who came from all over the country to erect this masterpiece.
LA SQALA / AFRICANCITYGUIDE.COM
From Hassan II Mosque to the Morocco Mall, is about 5.5 miles (9 km) of uninterrupted beach views. Recently renovated, the promenade has a cycling track and there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor sports equipment to try out along the way. From one of the many benches, you can watch the sun diving into the Atlantic, releasing mesmerizing colors into the sky.
Not far away from the Hassan II Mosque, is the Sqala Café Maure, which is located on the fortification of Casablanca’s medina built in 1770. The Sqala serves authentic Moroccan cuisine, particularly with its traditional Moroccan breakfast, scrumptious couscous served on Fridays, and perfectly flavored mint tea.
Surf Porte 13
If you are into surfing, check out specific sections dotted along AinDiab beach the promise great waves. You can access it via Port 13 from the Corniche promenade. If you are a beginner, you can register for lessons with a surf school, so the thrashing Atlantic doesn’t get the better of you.
One of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in Casablanca, characterized by ancient doorways and tiny shops for stocking up on handmade crafts (rugs, traditional outfits, mirrors and other decorations, ceramic plates and vases, and leather goods), Al Hubous is a gem beloved by locals. Be prepared to bargain for good prices. Stop by the Bennis Patisserie, accessible via the alleyways, for some delicious Moroccan sweets.
Discovering Casa is an awakening experience in every sense. If, like us, you’re bookmarking all the places you can’t wait to visit once lockdown has eased, definitely add Casa to your list.
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