Guide to Casablanca, Morocco
Casablanca ( Dar El Beida in Arabic) is Morocco’s principal city, capital in all but administration. Situated in the heart of the Maroc Utile – the most fertile zone and home to Morocco’s mineral wealth -, it is the busiest port in the Maghreb. It is even bigger than Marseilles, the town it was originally modelled on by the French in the 1920’s.
Given its sheer size, and its rapid development since the French protectorate times, Casablanca is like any other modern European city. Casa is a true departure from the rest of Morocco, with its show of wealth and modern development and its intense social problems evident in the bidonvilles (shanty towns). As you will get your bearings about, prepare your preconceptions about Morocco to be shattered: be it in the cosmopolitan beaches or the striking absence of veil in the streets.
Casa’s true delight remains the success and scale of its French colonial landmarks in the city centre. The style of these landmarks, built by the French in the 1920’s and 1930’s, is quite unique in its blend of French and Moroccan styles. Called “Mauresque and Art Deco Architecture”, it is essentially a French idealisation and improvement of Moroccan style using Art Deco. The best way to take in this unique architectural heritage is to simply take a stroll through the centre of town.
Casablanca is also home to the epic Hassan II Mosque, the second biggest mosque in the world with the tallest minaret. This great monument is set in a spectacular location, on a platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Another great landmark of Casablanca is the Jewish Museum, the only one available in the Muslim World.