Casablanca is the biggest city in Morocco located on the Atlantic Ocean and was modeled on the city of Marseilles by the French in 1920s. It is the capital of the region of Greater Casablanca and is the principal economic capital, the primary naval base.
It is, however, not the administrative or political capital of the country. Casablanca StadIt is situated in the heart of the Maroc Utile which is the most fertile zone of Morocco as well as a major source of mineral wealth. It is one of the busiest ports in the Maghreb.
There has been rapid development from the times of the French protectorate and it has grown much bigger than Marseilles. It seems like any other European city and before you go to Morocco simple don’t visualize anything at all. It would be an amazing visit for you.
The Berbers were the first settlers of the city in the 10th century BC. It was a major fort for the Phoenicians as well as Romans. Till the year 1068 the rulers were from the kingdom then named as Anfa. Casablanca in Spanish means white house. In 1068 it was conquered by the Almoravids. Under the rule of the Merinids in the 14th century it became a major port and by the 15th century it became and independent state again.
It had disrepute of being a safe harbor for pirates and privateers which lead to its destruction by the Portuguese in 1468. The Portuguese built a military fortress in 1515 and came to be called as “Casabranca” which means “White House” in Portuguese. In 1580 it was taken over by Spain till it was later made a part of Portugal in 1640. The earthquake of 1755 made them abandon the city that was nearly completely destroyed.
Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah grandson of Moulay Ismail was the one who reconstructed it in 1756-1790. At that time it was called ad-Dar al Bayda (white house in Arabic) and Casa Blanca in Spanish. Here onwards the city grew with the growth of the textile industry in Britain. Casablanca became a major exporter of wool to the industry and importing the famous national drink gunpowder tea.
1907 saw the French attempting to build a light railway near the port and passing through a graveyard. As a result they were attacked and rioting ensued. The French troops were called in to restore order and they finally took control of the city. By 1910 the French colonization was formalized. From 1940-1950 there were several cases of anti-French riots. In 1956 Morocco regained independence.
What to do?
The New town designed by the French architect Henri Prost is the most impressive part of Casablanca and Morocco also. There are several former administrative buildings and modern hotels worth checking out. You can see a combination of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Décor styles here.
The Hassan II Mosque designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau is magnificent. Situated on a promontory looking out at the Atlantic it has room for 25000 worshippers. There is place for 80000 more outside in the courtyard. The minaret of the mosque at 210 meters is supposed to be the worlds tallest.
The Parc de la Ligue Arabe is the city’s largest public park worth a visit. You may also visit the Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur that is on the edge of the park. It showcases the Mauresque architecture splendidly. The old medina is also being renovated and you would always find the wall of the medina, its skala (bastion) and the colonial period clock tower very impressive.
The Jewish Museum is also an important landmark here and is the only one available in the Muslim world. The small beach near Ain Diab is a good one and draws lots of tourist with the variety of beach clubs that are open here.
Accommodation, eat, drink
There are several hotels and being an important city most are full. There are luxury hotels as well as the smaller ones too. You may also find apartment or studios for accommodation and even find villas which can make your visit even more exiting. There are many traditional seafood joints and take away eateries. There is even an ice cream parlor with the name ‘Stella’ that has 30 different flavors to offer. If you want to have some drinks then the hotel bars may be the best bet.
If you plan to visit Casablanca make booking well in advance. The city is interesting and offers a large variety of things to do and see. Entertain yourself with the vibrant settings for a perfect holiday in Casablanca.