Casablanca - The City
Forever famous thanks to Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, in the 1942 film of the same name, Casablanca is the capital of Morocco in all but name. Rabat has the honour but Casablanca is widely regarded as the most important city due to its key economic, commercial, industrial and shipping activities. Such activities have given parts of the city a cutting-edge 21st century feel especially around the Boulevard Brahim Roudaini where modern new business centres have helped to create areas of fine dining restaurants and cultural venues. These are in stark contrast to the tiny streets of the Old Town’s medina and the bustling souks where dusty traditional and colonial style buildings can be seen.
Also known as Casa (informal) and Dar el Baida (Arabic), Casablanca (in english this translates to ‘white house’) has a lively history. This was most notable during the Portuguese occupation in the 15th century thanks to the country’s desire to stop pirates using the port to launch attacks on its fleets. The city was virtually destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 at which time the Portuguese lost interest and the city was reborn under the Moroccan leader Sidi Mohammed III’s extensive renovation plans. It still bears some of his landmark buildings today.
The Casablanca of today is a wonderful place to visit and one of the best ways to get the full impact of the city is to fly in from one of numerous European destinations and see the city from the air or to arrive by cruise ship. The city skyscape stretches to the horizon in all directions – from an aircraft window or from the deck of a ship and is one of those memories that will remain forever. Venturing out on foot or by vehicle the must-sees include the massive Hassan II Mosque with its glass floor, the Old Medina (Ancienne Medina) and the Art Deco new town (Ville Nouvelle).