We all agree that Morocco is one of the best destinations when seeking an extraordinary vacation. Due to its beautiful cities that are full of historical monuments and the diversity of its climates and cultures, Morocco has a great touristic reputation.
The majority of the cities in the kingdom still have a traditional side that gives them a unique and spectacular atmosphere which is called Medina. However, Casablanca is different but not an exception:
Casablanca is one of the largest metropolises in Morocco, the largest precisely. It is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean with many very beautiful beaches. Casablanca is located in the country center between Rabat the capital in the North and El Jadida in the South. It’s known as the economical city in the country. Casablanca contains the majority of the companies’ headquarters which makes it an essential destination for business trips.
There is a lot to know about Casablanca, but first, let’s know a little bit about the history of the city.
Historians found that Casablanca was used by Phoenicians and Romans as a port. According to Leo Africanus, the Romans called the port “Anfus” which is nowadays is known as Anfa. In Ezzayani’s opinion, the city would have been founded by Berbers, specifically the Zenetes Empire. However, the foundation of Casablanca remains a mystery.
Casablanca didn’t get the attention of many Empires. The Arab-Muslim Empires were usually attracted by Marrakech, Rabat, and Fes. But the city had its part of the heritage of the Arabo-Muslim Empires as well as Portuguese.
With the arrival of the colonial era, Casablanca has got more attention. The French colonization had its own effect on the city which appears in the architectural aspect of the buildings as we will see further in this post.
If you have a nostalgic tendency, you’ll want to see the traces left on the city by multiple eras throughout history. Here is a list of places you must see in Casablanca:
The Medina was rebuilt in 1770 after an earthquake. There is no typical itinerary to visit it, just stroll through its narrow streets and let you guided by its atmosphere. However, there are monuments not to be missed such as the sanctuary of Sidi El Kairouani. You should keep in mind to visit the Medina during the day and be vigilant.
The royal palace is located in the Habous district. The Royal Palace of Casablanca is the most beautiful monument in the city. Built-in 1920s by the Pertuzio brothers with an Arabi-Muslim although very modern architectural style. At the heart of this artwork, there are gardens designed in a Mediterranean style by Forestier, which make the palace even more sumptuous. The King’s palace is a jewel of Casablanca and Morocco but not open to visitors. This palace is reserved to hold important and diplomatic visits such as the visit of Pope John Paul in 1985. However, you can admire its immense walls and the main entrance.
Mohammed V square:
This famous square was built under the French protectorate in the 1920s. It’s a great manifestation of architecture combining tradition and modernity. This administrative center of the city was designed by the architect Joseph Marrast. It brings together several administrative monuments erected after the First World War, in particular the French consulate, the Courthouse, the Prefecture, the Central post office, and the Bank of Morocco which harmoniously border the famous square.
Arab League Park:
A little bit forward after leaving the Mohammed V square, you will be mesmerized by a very beautiful green wide space. The Arab League Park is Casablanca’s green lung covering 30 hectares. This emblematic space of Casablanca was designed in 1916 by Albert Laparade under the supervision of Henri Prost. The Park was planted 100 years ago in April 1921. It was first called Lyautey Park in honor of Hubert Lyautey who was a French general resident in Casablanca. The park was called “Arab League Park” after the independence of Morocco. The Park was renovated many times in 2015 and 2018.
In 1039 the church “Sacré-Coeur” was built by Paul Tournon, an architect winner of the “Prix de Rome”. This monument is built with a fabulous Art-Deco style. Its architecture, inspired by the aesthetics of European gothic cathedrals, gives this Art-Deco building a particular monumentality. Although it is now desecrated, during a great period of time after it was built the church was serving a catholic community of 40000 faithful followers. The cathedral “Sacré-Coeur” meaning the sacred heart is an immense building with a breathtaking design on the interior and the exterior.
Museum of Judaism:
The museum of Judaism is located in the Oasis district, it was built in 1997. The museum of Judaism is the only museum of the Jewish culture in North Africa and the Arab World. It was also inaugurated in 1997 after being set up by Simon Levy the founder of the Judeo-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation. The entry fee is 50 Dirhams (5 Euros), and free on Wednesday for students. It is opened all week except Saturday.
Mosque Hassan II:
The Hassan-II Mosque is a mosque located in Casablanca, Morocco. It was built under the reign and directives of King Hassan II. Planned on the site of the old municipal swimming pool, its construction began on July 12, 1986, and its inauguration took place on August 30, 1993, after seven years of work. Built partly on the sea, it is a religious and cultural complex, spread over nine hectares.
The construction of this monument allowed the relaunch of Moroccan craftsmanship in its entirety. The immensity of this work and the fact that most of its foundations were by the sea caused constant discussions to strengthen and stabilize this work. The Hassan II mosque was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. Workers from all over the kingdom participated in the construction of the mosque as well as craftsmen recruited to carve almost 53,000 m2 of wood and assemble 10,000 m2 of zellij for the decoration of the mosque. This religious complex includes a prayer room, an ablutions room, a Hammam, a Madrasa, a library, a museum, and an Academy of traditional arts.
The prayer room:
The prayer room is designed to accommodate almost 100,000 worshipers over an area of two hectares. The room has a movable roof that opens in 5 minutes thanks to a rolling system. The room is huge and of particular beauty, with a sophisticated lighting system and decoration reflecting the Arab-Muslim style.
The ablutions room:
Generally, ablution rooms are parts of mosques that are used to cleanse and purify the body and soul of everything that has to do with the world to enter into prayers. The Hassan II mosque has a 4800 m2 ablutions room. The ablutions room is decorated with Moroccan zellij.
The Hammam of the Hassan II mosque is typically divided into three parts like all traditional Hammams in Morocco. The first room must be cold, it is the last room where we sit before leaving the Hammam after a good shower. The second room is with a moderate temperature for those who cannot stand the high heat. The third room is hot, it is the first room where we spend the first phase of the shower, generally this room looks like a Sauna.
The complex has a Koranic school to teach the Koran and Islamic Law. The Koranic school includes classrooms, meeting rooms, and a royal apartment.
The library offers a multiple choice of books and electronic media. The library is well equipped with an ideal workspace.
The mosque museum:
On the ground floor is a museum spread over two corridors containing the materials with which the mosque was built, finished, and decorated. It is an exhibition of the construction stages of the Hassan II mosque. The museum also has a shop if you want souvenirs from your visit to the mosque.
The Academy of Traditional Arts:
the Academy aims to pass on the heritage of traditional Moroccan craftsmanship. You can learn 10 specialties: Painted wood, Carved wood, Stone cutting, Stucco cutting, zellij, jewelry, ironwork, weaving, leather goods. The Academy of Traditional Arts was founded in 2012.
There are several means of transport with which you can travel through all the historical and tourist places of the city of Casablanca. The means of urban transport are not more or less expensive; however, they are not very reliable. You can rent a car in Casablanca to have freedom and security during your stay.