Why Not Choose… Casablanca?
A city whose roots run deep, but with an unbelievably modern side, Casablanca boasts luxurious palaces, beautiful gardens, and exquisite flavours and scents. Starting in the Old Medina, where nostalgia fills the air, see where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman walked, and discover one of Morocco's most fascinating cities.
Past and Present Intertwined
Start your exploration of Casablanca by diving into the historical centre of the city: its Old Medina. Get lost in its tangle of little streets, filled with all kinds of shops. While you're there, make time to see the ramparts dating back to the 16th century, and visit the tomb of Sidi Allal El-Kairouani, the city's founder. Next, head for the Hassan II Mosque: Casablanca's must-see monument. It stands next to the water and has a particularly impressive minaret, which at 200m high is the tallest in the world.
Continue your visit at United Nations Square, which forms a bridge between past and present, connecting the Old Medina to the new part of the city. The old town is a striking contrast to the modern and dynamic metropolis of Casablanca. The New Medina, or the Habbous Quarter, is a modern souk. Blending picturesque appeal with a Hollywood décor, it is a unique site in Morocco. The French architects wanted to keep all the typical elements of a traditional Medina. It has the same jumble of streets, small squares, stone arcades and rows of stalls overflowing with artisan products.
Mohammed V Square, Casablanca's business district, gives you an even more concrete vision of the city's modern architecture. The French Consulate, the Courthouse, the Prefecture: a whole host of buildings remind us of Marshal Lyautey's commitment to the city's economic development.
Another highly recommended site is the Royal Palace: the King's secondary residence and undoubtedly the most beautiful monument in the city. The Mediterranean-style gardens in the heart of the palace are equally splendid. Just a short walk away is the old Mahkama du Pacha, a masterpiece of architecture and decoration. The Mahkama is the former Muslim courthouse of the Pasha of Casablanca. Completed in 1952, this Hispanic-Moorish style building has over sixty rooms, decorated with sculpted wood ceilings, stuccoes, earthenware tiles and wrought iron grilles. A stunning demonstration of Moroccan artisan talent.
For a relaxed end to your walk, stop off at the Arab League Park, a magnificent green space where you can take some time out in the heart of this exciting city. Then head for the Central Market, a true temple of pleasures for all your senses! Freshly caught fish and sea-food, pyramids of fruit and vegetables, dazzling flowers by the armful: you will want to smell and taste everything!
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Old Medina: offering a striking contrast to the modern streets, Casablanca's Old Medina will give you a glimpse of how Muslim cities looked in past centuries.
The Hassan II Mosque: built in the 1990s, this religious building was designed to combine architectural modernism and Moroccan religious tradition. Inside, you can admire its traditional Moroccan décor: frescoes, sculpted cedar wood, zellige tilework, etc.
United Nations Square: recognisable by its dome, known as the "Kora Ardia", this is where the city's major streets meet. Designed by French architect Joseph Marrast, this square is one of the most important in Casablanca.
The New Medina: originally intended to accommodate the rural population coming to seek work in Casablanca, it is now the place to find artisan boutiques and souvenir shops: traditional clothes, jewellery, bookshops, Moroccan furniture, pottery, leather-work and rugs, as well as olives and spices.
The Royal Palace: an architectural gem in the Arab-Muslim style, built in the 1920s. Many famous people have stayed in this Palace, including Pope John Paul II in 1985.
Mohammed V Square: built in 1920 under the French Protectorate, this square is the true heart of the modern city. Like Casablanca itself, it is an architectural triumph combining modern and traditional influences.
The Arab League Park: this is the "lungs of the city" and the largest green space in Casablanca. It is where the locals meet to enjoy a family picnic, a walk with friends, or just some fresh air, far from the frenzied hustle and bustle of the Medina.
Casablanca Central Market: there's no excuse for missing this riot of colours and scents! Flowers, fruits, spices, meats, and above all fish and shellfish to make your mouth water.
The Port of Casablanca: designed in 1907, the port has never stopped developing since then, and today, it is the largest port in Morocco. This fishing, leisure and commercial port is considered the economic heart of the city.
The Corniche: this lovely avenue is several kilometres long. You can walk or jog from the lighthouse to the end of the pier, and take in the beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean.
A Festival of Flavours and Colours
Moroccan cuisine has a wonderful reputation! Each dish is more delicious than the last: couscous, tagines, pastillas, mechoui... not to mention a dizzying array of spices to get your taste buds working!
But the treats that will really tempt your appetite are Moroccan pastries. Delicate combinations of almonds and milk flavoured with orange blossom or cinnamon, these eastern sweets are served with a glass of mint tea, for a moment of pure pleasure. Gazelle horns, chebakia, jalebi, and of course jawhara (milk bastilla) baklava, or msemens (Moroccan pancakes)... you'll just have to try them all!
March: Feast of the Throne
This is the kingdom's most important and most popular civil celebration. The Moroccan people celebrate the anniversary of the enthronement of King Mohammed VI, which took place on 30 July 1999.
For nine days, the city hosts the biggest names on the international jazz scene.
April-May: Awaln'art Festival
International artistic events focusing on circus and street art, theatre, dance, music, acrobatics, puppets and storytelling.
July: Casablanca Festival
This festival is the most popular and best attended event in Morocco: four days of multidisciplinary festivities, to give you a new perspective on the city. Although music takes centre stage, there is also street theatre, a breakdance tournament and the NouzahFennia programme created in 2009, combining various disciplines: dance, theatre, video art, slam, plastic arts, etc.
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