Casablanca is often overlooked by visitors to Morocco, with preference given to imperial cities like Marrakech and Fez or well-known beach resorts such as Agadir and Tangier. There are, however, plenty of reasons to stop by Morocco’s biggest city for a few days.
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Casablanca boasts the largest mosque in Morocco and one of the most spectacular in the world: the striking Hassan II Mosque. With interiors that are as stunning as the facade, it’s one of the city’s major tourist attractions as well as an important place of Islamic worship. Constructed in the 1990s, only the finest materials were used in its creation. Master artisans were employed from all over the country to produce exquisite details and you’ll see fine carvings in both wood and plaster as well as colourful tiling and much more.
Casablanca boasts the most Art Deco architecture of all of Morocco’s cities. It gives the city more of a fresh and modern feel in contrast to the imperial cities, which ooze history and tradition. The Art Deco buildings are a reminder of the French colonial period in the city. Indeed, the architecture of Casablanca is somewhat unique, with buildings that blend traditional Moroccan designs with a style that was in fashion in early 20th-century Europe. This movement became known as Mauresque. Several elegant buildings have been restored to their former glory and renovated to house hotels and restaurants. There are several grand buildings around Place Mohammed V, including the Grande Poste and the courthouse, whilst the Mers Sultan area has numerous lovely buildings too.
Artists are creating more and more spaces to showcase their works with museums and galleries throughout Casablanca. Villa des Arts is a top place for fans of contemporary art. The lesser-known Musee Abderrahman Slaoui has interesting collections and L’Atelier 21 also showcases modern pieces by Moroccan artists. Perhaps the most unusual of Casablanca’s art galleries is the Transcultural Slaughterhouse, an art space within a former abattoir. Others include Loft Art Gallery and Gallerie 38 and there’s also plenty of street art to admire as you wander around the city’s streets.
The Corniche is a popular place with locals and tourists alike. Stretching along the coast, it was once one of the most glamorous parts of the city. Although many of the buildings are now past their prime, you’ll still find a good selection of hotels and restaurants. Of course, the main reason for many to stroll along the promenade is to enjoy the seaside views. The Corniche is also within easy reach of public beaches, perfect for relaxing and watching the world go by.
The award-winning Morocco Mall is one of the biggest shopping centres in Africa. The gleaming silver structure overlooks the coast, with its futuristic style screaming for attention. Restaurants serve an array of global cuisines as well as traditional Moroccan favourites. You’ll find big brands such as Dior, Armani, Fendi, Diesel, Karen Millen, Louis Vuitton, Zara and Ralph Lauren among the diverse stores. A large pool and fountain can be found to the rear of the mall, while fans of the ocean deep will be delighted by the numerous creatures housed within the large aquarium.
Casablanca is home to many restaurants, making it easy to find the perfect destination for a leisurely lunch date, a relaxed brunch or a tasty evening meal. By evening, you’ll find everything from casual eateries to up-market gourmet restaurants. The city’s diversity is reflected in the wide array of cuisines available. As well as traditional Moroccan dishes and meals that reflect the nation’s French and Spanish legacies, you’ll find food from places like Italy, China, Lebanon and Japan. Top vegetarian restaurants are fairly easy to find and fresh seafood is plentiful.
In an Islamic nation like Morocco, drinking isn’t generally a popular activity. While bars and clubs are normally only found in the most touristy parts of the country, Casablanca is an exception to the rule. Stylish and swanky cocktail bars attract a glamorous set. If you’re into live music, you won’t be disappointed, with jazz bars, piano bars, live bands and more scattered across town. One of the city’s liveliest nightclubs is Cabaret Embassy, where the sounds of chaabi (Moroccan pop music) pulse through the air and dancers take to the stage to help get the party rocking.