Today I'm sharing the top six sights that I've visited in Casablanca. I had included Casablanca in my trip itinerary since it was easier for me to book my flights home from this city.
Casablanca's Mohamed V International airport is about forty minutes by car from the city centre, in off-peak hours. If you're flying out from this airport, allow enough time to get there.
- Casablanca is located about 90 km (56 miles) south west of the Moroccan capital of Rabat and bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
- Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco, with a population of almost 4 million and also boasts the world's largest artificial port.
- Casablanca is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco's cities. Many young Moroccans speak to each other exclusively in French.
- Casablanca main colour is white. Unlike Marrakesh and Fez, there are high rise buildings in Casablanca.
TOP SIX SIGHTS IN CASABLANCA (Click to enlarge the pictures):
1. The Hassan II Mosque - Standing partly over the water, the enormous Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau, was completed in 1993. It has a 210 meters (690 feet) minaret topped with lasers directed toward Mecca. It's the largest mosque in Morocco and the third largest in the world.
|Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco|
|Fountain at Hassan II Mosque|
The mosque has room for 25,000 worshippers inside, and a further 80,000 can be accommodated in the mosque's courtyard, which boasts a retractable roof. Astonishingly intricate decoration covers every centimeter of its surface. It is one of the two main mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims who can visit the mosque on guided tours. One interesting tidbit: The Mosque's doors are made of Canadian titanium! Everything else is made of local Moroccan materials.
|Doors at Hassan II Mosque|
|Ceilings and columns at Hassan II Mosque|
|Mosaic tile at Hassan II Mosque|
2. The Corniche is a beachfront neighbourhood on the ocean, west of the Hassan II Mosque. Along the Boulevard de l'Ocean Atlantique are many newer, fancier hotels, and many western fast food chains. The best option is to walk up and down the street, and enjoy Moroccan tapas at one of the many ocean-view cafes. In the photo below, you can see the lighthouse in the distance.
|Ocean view from Hassan II Mosque|
|A beach in Casablanca, Morocco|
3. Place Mohammed V is the central plaza of Casablanca. It is home to many of the city's important official buildings, including the main post office, Palace of Justice, Prefecture, French consulate, and the main Bank of Morocco. In the photo below, if you zoom in to the signage of the Palace of Justice, under the roof, you see it is written in Arabic and Berber languages.
|Place Mohammed V, Casablanca, Morocco|
4. The Notre Dame de Lourdes is a church built in 1954-1956 by the French architect Gaston Zimmer. The church exterior includes a massive concrete ‘hood’ which towers over the doorways and is completed with a small crucifix attached at its highest point.
|The Notre-Dame de Lourdes|
It's the beautiful stained glass windows inside the church that capture everyone's attention. The open, airy interiors are lit up by the beams of light that filter through these stained glass windows which cover an entire wall of more than 800 square meters. The stained glass was created by French stained glass artist, Gabriel Loire.
|Stained glass windows, Notre-Dame de Lourdes|
|Stained glass windows, Notre-Dame de Lourdes|
|Mother and Child stained glass|
|Unusual Devil stained glass|
5. Rick's Café - If you’ve heard about Casablanca, it’s probably because of Casablanca, the Academy-award movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in 1942. A replica of Rick's Café as seen in the movie was created ten years later in Casablanca's Old Town, within a 20 minute walk of the Hassan II Mosque and in the walls of the Old Medina bordering the ocean.
|Rick's Café, Casablanca|
My tour guide advised that the food is good at Rick's Café. Reservations and dress code are required for dinner. Alternatively, come here just for drinks at the bar, and soak up the 1940's Casablanca atmosphere.
6. Central Market - Casablanca's bustling central market is right in the city centre. It's where locals come to buy and sell. You'll find everything here from lamps, silver, spices, to Morocco's famous slippers. Be vigilante of your belongings and surroundings. If you're seriously interested in buying something, be prepared to haggle and disengage the negotiations amicably.
|Moroccan curry and Tagine mix|
|Moroccan beans and nuts|
|Moroccan jewelry boxes and wallets|
Casablanca is a busy city. It's well-connected to other cities and towns in Morocco by air, train, or bus so it's a convenient gateway. Its location by the Atlantic Ocean is a big draw in nice weather. In the city centre, I saw many Art Deco buildings which, if restored, would add more charms to the city.
I was glad that I had spent more time in Rabat, Volubilis, Fez, and Marrakesh. I found the layouts of these imperial cities more appealing than Casablanca, and their Medinas and ancient buildings or ruins a lot more fascinating than the Medina in Casablanca.
This is the last stop of my trip in Morocco. I've immensely enjoyed exploring this exotic country for the first time. It's a captivating destination. I've learned a lot from the places I've visited. I hope you enjoy my posts and photos.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments.