Destinations / The best cities to visit in the world / Casablanca- the most cosmopolitan city in the Islamic world
If you expect the film image of the city, get ready to have a shock - the modern city of Casablanca is very far from the oriental romanticism of any other place in Morocco. Casablanca impresses with modern, wide boulevards and well- maintained animated, high, white buildings. Few things here conform to the traditional oriental image. If the city of Casablanca is the first place you visit in Morocco, you might have all chances not to like it. But if you've seen other cities before, you will realize that the city is in a modern Moroccan style, an excellent example of how the country manages its Moroccans. As you leave downtown, you will wake up surrounded by poverty. If something in this city looks like the movie Casablanca then it comes from the old town. It is small, surrounded by small houses and few places of real beauty and it is home to thousands of people. On these narrow streets you can buy everything from spices to the animal pound. In a corner, the smell of pastry will make saliva, and in another corner you can buy several varieties of olives.
Casablanca city walls give you a strange feeling. The walls are small and non-imposing. A drastic change than other cities of Morocco, the city walls dominate the image of the city. The characteristics of Casablanca are the wide boulevards and the tall buildings. The streets are formed so as the sun rises from the Place de Nations Unies. This place is downtown and also where the modern town meets the Medina. The French colonial authorities paid special attention to the city. The colonial center of Casablanca is not small and it offers a refreshing beauty. The buildings are a French version of the Arab-Andalusian architecture, white, with lots of details. Armées Royales Forces Avenue is an area which deserves to be explored, the Place des Nations Unies deserves a special interest, with its great structures. La Marche Central of Casablanca is a small but successful version of traditional Moroccan suuq sites. Here you will find vegetables, meat, marine products and handicraft items.
From the Middle Ages, Casablanca was a prosperous city known as Anfa, a small village in the late XVIII century. By order of Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah it became known as Dar el-Beida, which means " the white house". The Spanish version of the "white house" sounded like "Casa Blanca", which later became the new name of the city. Today, Casablanca is a big city, with skyscrapers and the giant Mosque of Hassan II, where 25 thousand people can pray at the same time. The headquarters of major banks and more than half of Moroccan companies are in Casablanca - the city of the avant-garde and new technologies. Pier Mole Joseph, extending more than three thousand feet created an artificial port, the fourth in size in the country. Casablanca has 3.5 million inhabitants. The lifestyle of Casablanca is similar to southern European cities: business men and women with uncovered faces, mini skirts, high heels and sunglasses always hurrying. In 1907 Casablanca it was occupied by France. Under the French administration it had developed rapidly. The modern city was built around the Moorish suburbs .
During the World War II, Casablanca was one of the three points for landing during the Allied invasions of North Africa. Casablanca was the city where the U.S. President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill , met and decided their countries to fight with the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers in January, 1943. Casablanca, famous for the film “ Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is one of the largest cities in Africa being a favorite target for tourists looking for relaxation. The economic capital of Morocco, the most modern and liberal city in the country offers many opportunities for entertainment, from the wide beaches bordering the Atlantic to the nightlife. Casablanca is a modern metropolis located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with an intense economic activity. Most downtown buildings were built during the French domination in the period of 1912 - 1930, but the architectural style reflecting the unique which is found only in Casablanca seems much older.
To enjoy the unique atmosphere of the city, visit the Mohammed Avenue, the Mohammed Square and its surroundings. The metropolis has many tourist attractions, compared with other cities located in Morocco. Its places offer plenty of activities to entertain visitors. Shopping possibilities in Casablanca are varied, ranging from traditional bazaars to elegant boutiques. Turkish baths are very popular for tourists, known by locals as hammams.
The Great Hassan II Mosque
The main attractions of the city are concentrated in the north. The symbol of the City is the Great Hassan II Mosque, whose construction was completed in 1993, after many efforts of a huge financial and artistic work. The building was designed by the French architect Michel Pins. Nearly 6,000 artisans had been needed to accomplish the architectural work. The result of these efforts is one of the largest and beautiful mosques in the world. The Muslim place of worship is one of the few open to visitors of another religion. With a height of 200 meters, the Hassan II Mosque minaret is the highest in the world, and the highest building in Morocco.
The old Medina
The Metropolitan area is called the old Medina, a small medieval town surrounded by walls that keep the old atmosphere of Arab North African cities, with narrow, winding streets and numerous traditional shops.
The Hebrew Moroccan Museum
Another tourist attraction is the Hebrew Moroccan Museum. It is the unique in its kind in the entire Muslim world, being an evidence of tolerance characteristic to North African countries. The museum hosted a modern building located in the south of the city where books, scrolls and religious objects of ancient Moroccan Jews are exposed.
Casablanca beaches attract thousands of tourists annually. These can be divided into two categories, some crowded, located in Corniche, preferred by tourists for hotels, cafes and nightclubs in the immediate vicinity, and others less hectic located mainly in the Ain Diab district. If you run out of Casablanca sights, near the city of Rabat is the capital of Morocco, which offers numerous cultural and historical attractions.
The city of Casablanca has a Mediterranean climate with oceanic influences, with warm summers and cool dry winters. Due to the influence of the Atlantic, the temperatures are more moderate in Casablanca, both summers and winters, compared with the country. Regarding the time, the city can be visited all the year round, but keep in mind that winters can be quite cool. Most hotels are located in the north of the city.
In many restaurants in Casablanca you can enjoy both international and Moroccan specialties, generally very spicy. It is advisable to avoid food sold by the street vendors and bottled water to drink in Casablanca. The city of Casablanca is fairly accessible. Tour operators in the country offer numerous stays at low prices, starting at less than 300 euros / person. The official currency is the Moroccan dirhams (1 Dirham = 100 centimes).Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. To make a legitimate exchange passport is required. To communicate with local people, French is more useful than English. The city of Casablanca is fairly safe, but pickpockets are not missing completely, especially at night. Also, women should be dressed decently as to avoid harassment. A serious concern may be terrorism. The city was the target of two attacks of the fundamentalists in 2003 and 2007.
Casablanca is a French City moved in Africa with palm trees instead of lindens, with mosques instead of churches, with places to drink tea not coffee but speaking French and with French customs. The famous "Rick's Cafe" isn’t as it was in the film. The Americans arranged one in the “ Hilton Hotel”. That evening black American jazz, great jazz was arranged. A city near the desert … The most striking things are the food markets, they are super charged how rarely you see in Europe.
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