The Top Things to Do and See in the Medina, Casablanca

A trip to the Old Medina in Casablanca offers the chance to marvel at the historic city walls
A trip to the Old Medina in Casablanca offers the chance to marvel at the historic city walls | © Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Emily Langan
4 September 2021

The architecture of the Hassan II Mosque, the shops of the Quartier Habous, the movie nostalgia of Rick’s Café – there’s plenty to love in the Medina of Casablanca. Stuck on what to visit first? Here’s a rundown of the top attractions in this Moroccan port city on the Atlantic.

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The Old Medina

Historical Landmark
Map View
Old Medina, Casablanca
© Graham Lawrence / robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Step back in time and stroll through the streets of the Old Medina, the pre-20th-century city frozen in time. Remnants of the old city walls and forts can still be seen, and the narrow alleyways have remained the same for hundreds of years.

Much of this historic centre is now a bazaar; artisans selling leather goods, oils, linens, shoes and spices, or even antiques passed down by their ancestors. You’ll have to barter, but most vendors offer reasonable prices or are willing to negotiate. Here you’ll also find various outdoor cafes and smaller restaurants, so enjoy a coffee or tea while watching the locals go about their daily life.

Alpha 55

Store
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The only department store in Casablanca, Alpha 55 has seven spacious floors lined with a wide range of products at reasonable prices. Pick up cosmetics, luggage, toys and sporting goods, as well as a plethora of clothes and school supplies. On the top floor is a restaurant, open Mon-Sun, 10am-5pm and 9pm-midnight.

Hassan II Mosque

Mosque
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Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.
© Fausto Riolo / Alamy Stock Photo
Nicknamed the Casablanca Hajj, Hassan II Mosque was finished in 1993 and stands today as the largest mosque in Morocco. It was originally designed by Michel Pinseau and was named by King Hassan II himself. When the project began, more than 6,000 artists were hired to fulfil Pinseau’s dream.

The mosque is open to all Muslims at daily prayer times and for special services, and open to non-Muslims for guided tours, which take place several times a day in different languages. One of the most incredible parts of the mosque, and an area prohibited to non-Muslim visitors, is a glass-floor section above the sea, so royalty can kneel directly over the waters to pray.

Place Mohammed V

Architectural Landmark
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The Palais du Justice Law courts in Casablanca
© Gordon Sinclair / Alamy Stock Photo
Architect Henri Prost ran with his vision and created a monumental plaza in the heart of Medina, impacting and inspiring future architects in many ways. This magnificent square is surrounded by public buildings, including law courts, the governor’s office, the bank al-Maghrib, the post office and the Ministry of Defence building. Within the open area are cobblestone bricks leading to an incredible fountain display in the centre. The fountain is an amazing sight during the day, and is lit up for special occasions. Place Mohammed V is also an ideal area for a day of shopping.

Quartier Habous

Market, Architectural Landmark
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Quartier Habous, Casablanca, Morocco, Africa
© PhotoPulp / Alamy Stock Photo
Built by the French in the 1930s, the Quartier Habous is a miniature village lined with shops and eateries, and even has a mosque. This site combines modern French ideals with traditional Moroccan style, resulting in beautiful architecture and design.

Shop owners here are known to be friendly and to offer affordable prices – find traditional Moroccan clothing, slippers, carpets and handmade trinkets. Book stores and open-air restaurants can also be found here and make for relaxing stops during the day. There are also well-known bakeries and pastry shops, including Bennis Habous, which sells delicious, authentic Moroccan cakes.

Rick's Café

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Continental, $$$
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Rick's cafe, Casablanca
© raphael salzedo / Alamy Stock Photo
Recreating the set of the 1942 movie Casablanca, Rick’s Café is a film lover’s dream. Step in the door and travel back to the 1940s, right into Rick Blaine’s café, complete with decor matching the era and a pianist playing music from the film. The restaurant has several floors, while televisions throughout play the film on loop. A variety of Moroccan food and drink is available for both lunch and dinner. Reservations and a sophisticated dress code are both necessary.

Patisserie Bennis Habous

Patisserie, Moroccan, Halal, $$$
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Patisserie Bennis
© RIEGER Bertrand / hemis.fr
Within Quartier Habous is Patisserie Bennis Habous, a traditional sweet shop set in an old Moroccan house. It’s difficult to find, but worth the hunt. The most popular treats here are the sweet and savoury cookies. Queue up and you’ll be handed a free sample. Another delicacy is the mini pastilla filled with shredded fish, vermicelli and prawns.

Loft Art Gallery

Art Gallery, Museum, Shop
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Loft Art Gallery was opened in 2009 by two contemporary art professionals, Meriem and Yasmine Berrada. Their goal is to increase awareness of the importance of modern art in Arab countries. The gallery is funded by the Global Thinkers and Doers for the Arab World Association and supports the biggest names in local art (such as Farid Belkahia, Kim Bennani and Amina Rezkias) as well as up-and-coming talents.
These recommendations were updated on September 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Emily Langan

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