Casablanca

Overview

Introduction

Casablanca is well known because of the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name, despite the fact the film was shot in a Hollywood studio. It's also Morocco's largest and most modern city.

Before the French began to develop it as the country's economic capital in 1912, Casa—as Casablanca is commonly called—was only a small trading post. Its subsequent rapid growth has wiped away most of its romantic image; it's bound to disappoint most visitors.

Now basically a big commercial and industrial city with hints of both French and Arabic culture everywhere, it is home to most of Morocco's major corporations and banks. However, its traditional markets pale in comparison with those of Fez or Marrakech. If you're into nightlife, you'll want to stay a night or two; Casablanca is reputed to have the best homegrown club scene in the country. Otherwise, you'll probably be content to see the city in one day. On the other hand, it is the country's main transportation hub, so you may find yourself spending some time there.

Although Casablanca has a medina and boasts several landmark 1920s and 30s buildings with art-nouveau, art-deco and traditional Moroccan accents (concentrated around Place des Nations Unies and Place Mohammed V), the most impressive sight by far is the Hassan II Mosque. It was completed in 1993 and is one of the largest mosques in the world. It is also one of only a few mosques in Morocco that non-Muslims can visit.

The beach suburb of Ain Diab is a good place to stroll along the corniche (oceanside promenade), especially at night. It has plenty of seafood restaurants and nightclubs. Just a few miles/kilometers north of Casablanca are some beach resorts, such as Mohammedia, where there's a golf course popular with Europeans. The only good hotel, however, had its beach spoiled by the nearby petroleum plant. All in all, we feel that there are better resorts elsewhere in the country. Casablanca is 60 mi/100 km southwest of Rabat.

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