The financial capital and an internationally expanding metropolis, Casablanca owes its name to the few white houses gently growing old along its ramparts. Completely rebuilt from 1920 onwards, it is now a perfect example of successful colonial urban development.
The town centre, with its combination of art deco and neo-Moorish styles, is a paean to harmony and balance. From the enormous Hassan II mosque to the Zevaco cupola, United Nations Square, Morocco’s most contemporary town integrates modernity and tradition in a way that it has made its own. Its architecture, opting for straight lines and restrained shapes, has given it a trendy, cosmopolitan aura, a city where fashions, ideas and new trends are constantly emerging.
Attractive and so vital for the Kingdom, Casablanca is a town that you very quickly want to address by its nickname, Casa.
CASABLANCA THE GUIDING CITY
60% of Morocco's companies are based in Casablanca, includi aIl those in the high-tech sector. The city consumes 30% of the natio electricity and is the headquarters of practically aIl the major banks.
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Casablanca is where everything happens.
It has always been an avant-garde city, ifs strength lying in an ability to take advantage of advances made in technology and modernism, enriching them with the best of Moroccan tradition to cr< ifs own individual style. At the beginning of the century Casablanca: already adopted a plan of urban development to channel ifs extraordi; growth. The centre is the hub of a series of spacious avenues spread.1 out in a,star formation, each lihed with elegant buildings that are an admirable blend of Art Deco and Neo-Moorish styles, featuring cup belvederes, columns, cedarwood balconies and turrets.
Since Casablanda hflS no natural harbour, the fantastic 3180 r long Moulay Youssef jetty was constructed to create Morocco's pre port and the fourth in Africa.
The Mohamed V International Airport, the country's largest, reflects the style of the city. Recently completed, the ultra modern arrivaI area is a monument to traditional architecture.
How can one possibly describe the Hassan II Mosque? From the air, it dominates the city. Built on the edge of the ocean, it rises like some kind of divine ship. But if its divinity cornes from heaven, its greatnes and its beauty are the work of men who gave it ail the love, art and technology
witin their power. The prayer hall can accommodate 25 000 ofthe faithful, and the esplanade 80 000 more. The traditional Moroccan architecture here reaches its zenith with the use of ultra-sophisticated technology. 3 300 craftsmen from ail over the Kingdom worked together to build this monument on pile foundations covering 2 hectares, erect the world's tallest minaret (200 metres), install the retractable roof which, in three minutes, can transform the prayer hall into a magnificent patio, sculpt 10 000 square metres of decorations, 67 000 square metres of plaster, 53 000 square metres of wood...
The Great Hassan II Mosque is quite simply dazzling.
In Casablanca, even the souks have benefited from the march progress. And how magnificently! Built at the beginning of the century, the Habbous district seems as if it bas been throbbing with activity silice the dawn of time. Punctuated by attractive little shaded1 squares, narrow streets lined with arcades lead froID one souk to j another. Here, the coppersmiths shape teapots, cauldrons, chandeliers! vases, lanterns and trays... These are the bazaars bursting with all kinds of merchandise in aIl imaginable colours... on one si de there is the curious and fragrant olive souk... on the ather the pastry shops piled high with appetising doughnuts, "cornes de gazelles" and date cakes... Rows of mechanical sewing machines being worked by men in djellabas... strange but wonderful antique ~hops selling fascinating and beautiful objets d'art...
ln this quarter stands the Mahkama du Pacha, the sumptuous edifice which bouses both the court of justice and reception rooms for state occasions. And, a little further on, the Notre Dame de Lourdes church, a monumental concrete sculpture dating from the 50's, lit by vast stained glass windows covering an area of 800 square metres.
ln comparison, the old medina appears like an extravagant labyrinth which bas fortunately been contained within the ramparts. What a delight it is to wander through ifs bustling streets - watching the never-ending spectacle of barbeTs, butchers, grocers, ironmongers and their throngs of customers... But if, during the day, Casablanca is alive with dynamism, during the evening you cali dTink in the sea air on the famous corniche, the are a preferred by those looking for the night life, with ifs beaches and swimming pools, ifs fashionable bars, restaurants and hotels.
A dynamic metropolis, Casablanca achieves ils power by drawing on ils rich cultural heritage and adapting it to modern business needs. It encourages forums and debates and possesses aIl the infrastructure of a major international capital. Congresses and conventions bring together scientists, industrialists and financiers from aIl over the world. Seminars and round taes are held in the opulent meeting rooms of ils luxury hotels. Political summits take place there. Which is, in fact, quite a tradition. ln 1943, His Late Majesty, Mohamed V, accompanied by His Majesty Hassan Il,.then a young prince, welcomed the three great leaders of the free world; Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle, for the Anfa conference.
AROUN AND ABOUT IN THE CASABLANCA REGION
The inhabitants of Casablanca only have to travel a few kilometres to enjoy a wide variety of activities. Don't be afraid to follow suit: relax by the sea, go for walks in the beautiful forests or steep yourself in history as you visit the ancient fortified cities... 28 km to the north stretch sandy beaches, with a.. casino, luxury hotels, a racecourse, a yacht-club and an 18 hole golf course beside the sea. This is Mohammedia, the Casablancans' favourite resort which also boasts one of the country' s most active ports- posses~ing a history going back to the XIVth century when it was visited by ships from Pisa, Genoa, Venice and Portugal.
A little further tp the east, Ben Slimane is the place to go if you are interested in more rural pursuits. Hiking or hunting in the magnificent Ziaïdas cork-oak forest or perhaps a round of golf on the endearing nine hole course with its lake populated by splendid carp and flocks of wild duck.
ln the plain, to the south, stretch the renowned Boulaouane vineyards which produce the celebrated rosé wine. Don't be surprised if you catch sight of a falcon flying overhead, for Boulao.uane is Dot only ,"fi internationally famous for its wine; it is also one of the greatest centres of falconry. The falconry itself is situated in a spectacular kasbah built in 1710 by Moulay Ismaïl consisting of a rectangular walled area with 7 bastions.
On the coast, 100 kilometres to the south, discover the old fortified cities, former Portuguese trading posts.
Azemmour is surrounded by ochre ramparts, from which projects a small platform overlooking the reddish waters of the Oum er-Rbia estuary, famous for its delicious al osa, the local culinary speciality. The medina is superb with its white, square
houses, livened up by bougainvillaea, rising on terraces among the olive and pomegranate trees.
Considered as offering the best shelter on the entire Atlantic coast, El Jadida was the Scelle of bitter fighting with the Portuguese, who finally lost it in 1769. A walk
around the ramparts gives splendid views the surrounding country, while from each of the rive bastions you cao see over the port, the moat and the clustered houses... You must not miss the huge 1100 square metTe underground reservoir in' which the water and tpe light combine to throw the amazing gothic.architecture iota sharp relief; a setting orteil used by film-makers, in particular Ors on Welles for his "Othello".
NOT TO BE MISSED
THE CENTRAL MARKET
The Casablanca Central Market is truly a feast for the senses. There are so many delectable products Superbly presented that, if you are staying in a hotel, you wilI almost wish you had cooking facilities of your own! Fish and seafood straight out of the ocean, pyramids of fruit and vegetables mixed together with fIowers bursting with colour.
A VISIT TO THE MARABOUT
A few kilometres from "Casa", on a rocky island that cao only be reached at low tide, stands the Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane koubba, magnificent in the light of the setting sun. The holy man was said to have had miraculous powers - and judging by the sick and infirm who corne to visit bis tomb hoping for a cure, there must be
many who believe that it is true.
THE MAGIC OF PLACE MOHAMED V
There is so much to admire in Place Mohamed V by day. What magnificent architecture! The Post Office, the Palacé of Justice, the Prefecture, the French Consulate and the Bank of- Morocco ail set around the c.entral fountain... which, by night, cornes alive with lights in a gloriously enchanting spectacle.
THE OUALIDIA OYSTERS.
They are so delicious that they al one would be reason enough to make a trip to Oualidia... to be followed by an after-dinner stroll along the delightful curve of the beach, protected from the open sea by a serie"s of small "islands. And then, once back in Casablanca, you cao always taste them again in the seafood restaurants on the corniche or strung out along theport...