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Casablanca

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Casablanca, kingdom of the dolce vita

On the Atlantic coast south of Rabat, Casablanca is the emblem of modern Morocco. It is an utterly surprising city, and you will be charmed by its many faces. Open to the world, its commercial port and business district are among Africa’s most important. Casablanca owes its name and development to sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah who, in the 17th century baptised it Dar El Beïda (the white house). The Spanish translation went down in history.

Visiting downtown Casablanca

The old medina in the north western part of the city offers a great view over the rooftops of the old city and over the harbour. Stroll through its narrow streets to meet Casablanca’s artisans along their colourful shops and stalls! You’ll also discover beautiful buildings, the Great Mosque in particular.

Exiting the medina through the avenue de l’Armée royale, walk around the United Nations Square and admire the Tour de l’Horloge (clock tower). These works are symbolic of the coexistence of modernity and tradition in Casablanca. From here, take the incredible boulevard Mohamed V: under its arcades, boutiques and restaurants extend for two kilometres. It will take you the big market souk, not to be missed!

From the place de Nations Unies, the avenue Hassan II takes you to the Wilaya: a prefecture unlike any you’ve seen before! The edifice is organised around a marvellous triple patio and hides a tropical garden of a rare richness. Next, climb the tower and admire the view over all of Casablanca.

A few footsteps away, the park of the Ligue Arabe is without context the most beautiful walk the city has to offer. A great photo opportunity! The central path is lined with enormous palm trees. Take a coffee pause on a shaded terrace in the middle of Casablanca’s art deco quarter. From the Place de Ligue Arabe, walk down the boulevard Brahim Roudani and be surprised by the Villa des Arts and its remarkable contemporary art museum.

South of the city centre, walk along the Murdoch garden on the boulevard Victor Hugo: head to the Pasha’s Mahkama! This royal palace of Hispano-Moorish style, in marble and wood, houses sixty grandiose halls. It was used as the court and reception hall of Casablanca’s old Pasha.

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Around Casablanca: beaches and walks

When you head away from the centre on the boulevard des Almohades north of the ancient medina, you can follow Casablanca’s seafront promenade. Here you’ll discover Allah’s throne, nickname of Casablanca’s Hassan II mosque, suspended over the sea. Visiting it is exceptional as it is one of the rare mosques open to the public, with the exception of Fridays (the Islam day of assembly) and the days of important religious celebrations.

A coastal extension of the city, the seafront promenade follows a succession of beaches, café terraces and salt water swimming pools. Less crowded during the week, this is the spot where locals like to stroll around at sunset to exchange news.

In the evening go for a walk along the seafront promenade of Aïn-Diab, between the El Hank lighthouse and the marabout Sidi Bou Abderrahmane. This sanctuary is perched atop a rocky outcrop surrounded by ocean, and can only be reached during low tide. For part animals, Aïn Diab is very lively and as soon as night falls the clubs open.

Following the coast to the north, you’ll arrive at Mohammedia, a luxurious resort town that includes a marina and various luxury hotels. Twenty kilometres further north is Bouznika. With its beautiful beaches, this is one of the Atlantic coast’s most famous resort towns. Dar Bouazza, and its huge water park are an attraction not to be missed.

Access

Located 95 km from Rabat, 230 km from Meknes and 240 km from Marrakech, Casablanca boasts Morocco’s most important international airport. You can get there by plane or train, and more adventurous travellers will drive there in a rental car or take a bus.

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