Things to Do in Casablanca
With its regal cliff-top perch overlooking the ocean and a soaring 210-meter high minaret (the world’s highest) that shines a beam toward Mecca during the evening hours, everything about the Hassan II Mosque is grandiose. The magnificent mosque is among the largest in the world, with space for up to 100,000 worshippers.
In the north of the city between the port and the seafront Hassan II Mosque, the Old Medina of Casablanca contains the last vestiges of pre-20th century Casablanca. Though the modern city sprawls in every direction, the historic quarter remains a maze of alleyways and a vast souk, tucked in by the remnants of ancient walls.
A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, surrounded by picturesque orange groves and elaborate water features, the Royal Palace of Casablanca is a suitably grand abode for the King of Morocco when he’s in town. Located in the Habous Quarter of the city’s New Medina, this is the King’s principal Casablancan residence and throughout the year hosts royal receptions.
Habous Quarter in southeastern Casablanca is one of the city’s most atmospheric districts. French colonizers in the 1920s created the area and small tree-lined squares, neat alleyways, elegant arcades, and a curious mix of French colonial buildings and traditional Maghrebi architecture still remain. Throughout, small souks sell handicrafts and leather goods.
Flanked by Casablanca’s most striking architecture, Mohammed V Square forms the central hub of the city’s buzzy new town. Laid out in the early 20th century and named in honor of the former Sultan, the plaza centers around a monumental fountain, dramatically lit up in the evening hours.
The city’s most fashionable suburb, Ain Diab Corniche is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The district is bisected by Corniche Boulevard, from the Hassan II Mosque in the east to the El-Hank Lighthouse in the west, but the main attraction is the scenic promenade along the Casablanca seafront where everyone comes for at least a stroll.
Located along the busy shopping street of Mohammed V Boulevard, Marché Central de Casablanca is the city’s main market. Crammed with locals, the daily market is a fascinating place for tourists to get a taste of local culture, while picking up bargains on everything from food to fresh flowers and traditional clothing.
All too often overshadowed by the magnificence of the Hassan II Mosque, the Église Notre Dame de Lourdes (Church of Our Lady of Lourdes) is an important center of worship for Morocco’s Roman Catholic population and serves as a striking example of Casablanca’s modern architecture.
Built in 1954 by architect Achille Dangleterre, the structure’s imposing white concrete façade looks more like a warehouse than a church and a simple white cross is the only hint to its purpose. Step inside however, and the reason for its popularity becomes obvious – a dazzling kaleidoscope of floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. Painstakingly crafted by French glassmaker Gabriel Loire, the masterpiece includes an incredible 800 square meters of glass and many visitors to the church come solely to admire its artistry.
Located at the gateway between the historic Old Medina and the new Casablanca built during the 20th-century French rule, United Nations Place is the city’s busiest public squares. The futuristic steel lattice cupola, designed by jean Francois Zevaco, marks the pedestrian underpass, where the city’s principal boulevards intersect.
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