Casablanca: From Classic Movies to Modern Architecture

Casablanca: From Classic Movies to Modern Architecture

Casablanca is a city located in western Morocco, on the Atlantic coast. It is the largest city in Morocco and serves as the economic and business hub of the country. With a population of over 3 million people, it is also one of the largest cities in Africa.

Short History

Casablanca is a port city located on the western coast of Morocco. The area was originally settled by Berber fishermen in the 10th century BC, but it wasn’t until the 15th century AD that Casablanca became an important port city. During the 19th century, the city experienced a period of rapid growth, as European powers competed for influence in Morocco. In 1907, Casablanca became a French protectorate, and the city continued to grow under French rule. Today, Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and serves as an important commercial and industrial hub for the country.


Casablanca is known for its unique blend of traditional Moroccan architecture with modern, Art Deco and European styles. The city was designed by the French architect Henri Prost in the early 20th century, and many of its buildings reflect this influence.

One of the most notable examples of Art Deco architecture in Casablanca is the famous Casablanca Cathedral, also known as the Sacré-Cœur Cathedral. Built in the 1930s, the cathedral features a striking white façade and is one of the largest cathedrals in Africa.

Another notable building in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. Completed in 1993, the mosque features a traditional Moroccan design and includes a minaret that stands at over 200 meters tall.

Other notable architectural landmarks in Casablanca include the Casablanca Twin Center, a pair of skyscrapers that dominate the city skyline, and the Mahkama du Pacha, a historic courthouse that features a mix of Moorish and European architectural styles.

Museums and Galleries

Casablanca, being one of Morocco’s largest cities, has a rich culture and history that is reflected in its museums and galleries. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

  • Villa des Arts de Casablanca – This art museum is located in a beautiful Art Deco building and features a collection of Moroccan and international contemporary art.
  • Musée Abderrahman Slaoui – This museum is housed in a stunning 19th-century mansion and showcases a collection of traditional Moroccan art, including ceramics, textiles, and jewelry.
  • Museum of Moroccan Judaism – This museum provides insight into the history and culture of Morocco’s Jewish community and features a collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents.
  • La Fabrique Culturelle des Anciens Abattoirs – This former slaughterhouse has been transformed into a cultural center and art space, featuring exhibitions, workshops, and events.
  • Dar Al Ala – This museum is housed in a beautiful Andalusian-style mansion and displays a collection of traditional Moroccan art and handicrafts.
  • The Arab League Park Gallery – This gallery is located in a park and showcases the works of contemporary Moroccan artists, as well as international artists.
  • The Mohamed Drissi Gallery – This gallery features the works of local Moroccan artists, including paintings, sculptures, and installations.
  • Galerie Venise Cadre – This gallery features a diverse collection of contemporary Moroccan art, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs.
  • La Galerie 38 – This contemporary art gallery features the works of emerging Moroccan and international artists.
  • The Loft Art Gallery – This gallery is located in an industrial-style space and showcases the works of contemporary Moroccan artists.

These museums and galleries in Casablanca are worth visiting for anyone interested in exploring the city’s art and culture scene.

Landmarks and Monuments

Casablanca, a bustling city in Morocco, is known for its beautiful landmarks and monuments. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

  • Hassan II Mosque: This is the largest mosque in Morocco and one of the largest in the world. It is known for its beautiful architecture, intricate details, and stunning location on the coast.
  • Royal Palace of Casablanca: This is the official residence of the King of Morocco. The palace is not open to the public, but visitors can see the exterior and the beautiful gardens surrounding it.
  • Mahkama du Pacha: This former courthouse is now a museum that showcases Moroccan architecture and design. Visitors can explore the beautiful tiled rooms and learn about the history of the city.
  • Old Medina: The old town of Casablanca is filled with narrow streets, traditional houses, and small shops. It is a great place to explore and experience the local culture.
  • Place Mohammed V: This is the main square of Casablanca and a popular meeting spot for locals. It is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings and has a fountain in the center.
  • Cathédrale Sacré-Cœur: This Catholic church is a unique sight in Casablanca. It was built in the early 20th century and is known for its beautiful stained glass windows.
  • La Corniche: This is a long promenade that runs along the coast of Casablanca. It is a popular spot for locals and visitors to stroll, relax, and take in the sea views.
  • Parc de la Ligue Arabe: This is a large park in the heart of Casablanca. It has beautiful gardens, a lake, and a playground for children.
  • Museum of Moroccan Judaism: This museum showcases the history and culture of the Jewish community in Morocco. It has a collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that give visitors an insight into this important part of the country’s heritage.
  • Villa des Arts: This is a contemporary art museum that showcases the work of Moroccan and international artists. It has a variety of exhibitions, workshops, and events throughout the year.

Parks and Green Spaces

Casablanca, as a bustling urban center, may not be known for its abundance of parks and green spaces. However, there are several parks and gardens in and around the city that are worth visiting. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Parc de la Ligue Arabe: Located in the heart of the city, this park features lush greenery, fountains, and sculptures.
  • Parc de la Colline du Château d’Eau: This park sits on a hill overlooking the city and offers stunning views of Casablanca and the ocean.
  • Parc Sindibad: A popular amusement park with rides, games, and other attractions.
  • Jardin de la Villa des Arts: A beautiful garden filled with sculptures and art installations.
  • La Corniche: This scenic promenade runs along the coast of Casablanca and features gardens, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Parc de la Ligue Arabe: A beautiful park located in the city center with manicured lawns, gardens, and fountains.
  • Parc de la Lyautey: This park is located in the upscale neighborhood of Gauthier and features a large central pond and walking paths.
  • Parc de la Vierge: A quiet and secluded park located in the heart of the city with a beautiful fountain and gardens.
  • Parc de la Technopole: This park is located in the suburbs of Casablanca and features a lake, walking paths, and gardens.
  • Parc de la Préfecture: A small but charming park located in the city center with fountains and gardens.

Shopping Districts

Here are some shopping districts in Casablanca worth exploring:

  • Morocco Mall: This is the largest shopping center in Africa, with over 600 stores, restaurants, and cafes. It also has an aquarium, an indoor ice-skating rink, and a movie theater.
  • Anfa Place: Located along the coast, this outdoor shopping center has a mix of high-end boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. It also offers great views of the ocean.
  • Central Market: This is a traditional Moroccan market where you can find a variety of goods, including spices, textiles, and souvenirs.
  • Twin Center: This is a twin-tower complex with offices, apartments, and a shopping center. The shopping center has a mix of local and international brands, as well as restaurants and cafes.
  • Habous Quarter: This is a historic neighborhood with narrow streets and traditional architecture. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs, pottery, and handicrafts.
  • Maarif: This is a trendy neighborhood with a mix of high-end boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
  • Sidi Belyout: This is a commercial district in the heart of Casablanca with a mix of local and international brands, as well as cafes and restaurants.
  • Derb Ghallef: This is a large outdoor market that specializes in electronics and technology. It’s a great place to find deals on laptops, smartphones, and other gadgets.
  • Morocco Handmade: This is a store that specializes in handmade Moroccan goods, including rugs, pottery, and leather goods.
  • Ain Diab: This is a beachfront neighborhood with a mix of cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the ocean views while doing some shopping.

Food and Drink

Casablanca is known for its delicious Moroccan cuisine, which is heavily influenced by the country’s unique mix of Arabic, Berber, and Mediterranean cultures. Some popular dishes and drinks to try while in Casablanca include:

  • Tagine – a slow-cooked stew of meat, vegetables, and spices, typically served with couscous or bread.
  • B’stilla – a sweet and savory pie made with pigeon or chicken, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar.
  • Harira – a hearty soup made with chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, and spices, often eaten during Ramadan.
  • Pastilla – a flaky pastry filled with chicken or seafood, eggs, and almonds, and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  • Mint tea – a refreshing and traditional Moroccan tea made with fresh mint leaves and sugar, served hot and often accompanied by sweets.

In addition to these dishes, be sure to try other Moroccan specialties like couscous, mechoui (slow-roasted lamb), and tajine d’agneau aux pruneaux (lamb tagine with prunes). For drinks, consider trying Moroccan wine or beer, or opt for a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.


Casablanca has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy for visitors to get around. Here are some of the best ways to move around Casablanca:

  • Tramway: The Casablanca tramway system is modern, efficient, and affordable. It connects most of the major areas in the city, including the Old Medina, the Hassan II Mosque, and the Corniche.
  • Taxi: Taxis are plentiful in Casablanca, and they are an easy way to get around the city. Make sure to negotiate the price before getting into the taxi, as some drivers may try to overcharge.
  • Bus: The bus system in Casablanca is extensive, but it can be a bit confusing for visitors. Make sure to get a map and timetable before using the bus system.
  • Train: Casablanca has a good train network that connects it to other major cities in Morocco, including Marrakech, Rabat, and Tangier.
  • Car rental: If you want to explore Casablanca and the surrounding areas at your own pace, you may want to consider renting a car. There are several car rental companies in the city.
  • Bicycle: Casablanca is not a very bike-friendly city, but if you are an experienced cyclist, you may be able to get around on a bike. Some areas of the city have dedicated bike lanes, but be prepared to share the road with cars and pedestrians.

City Safety

Casablanca is generally considered a safe city for tourists, but like any other major city, there are certain areas that should be avoided, especially at night. It is recommended that visitors take precautions such as keeping an eye on their belongings and avoiding walking alone at night. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft is relatively common in some parts of the city. It is advisable to check the current safety situation and travel advisories before planning a trip to Casablanca.

Expensive or Cheap

Casablanca is generally considered to be one of the more expensive cities in Morocco, especially compared to other cities outside of the tourist hotspots. However, it can still be relatively affordable for travelers on a budget, especially when compared to other major cities around the world. The cost of accommodation, food, and transportation can vary widely depending on the area and level of comfort, but overall, Casablanca can be considered moderately expensive.

Date Ideas

If you’re looking for a romantic night out in Casablanca, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some date ideas:

  • Stroll along the Corniche: This scenic promenade stretches for several miles along the Atlantic Ocean, providing beautiful views of the coastline. You can walk hand-in-hand, enjoy a drink or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
  • Visit the Hassan II Mosque: This magnificent mosque is one of the largest in the world and features stunning architecture and design. Take a guided tour or attend a prayer service for a unique cultural experience.
  • Enjoy dinner and a show at Comptoir Darna: This trendy restaurant and bar offers a lively atmosphere and entertainment, including live music and belly dancing. The menu features traditional Moroccan dishes with a modern twist.
  • Take a cooking class: Learn to make traditional Moroccan dishes with your partner at La Maison Arabe Cooking School. Classes typically last for a few hours and include a meal of the dishes you’ve prepared.
  • Attend a concert or performance: Check the schedule at the Theatre Royal or the Casablanca Opera House for upcoming concerts or performances.
  • Visit the Old Medina: Explore the bustling markets and narrow streets of the Old Medina, where you can shop for souvenirs, sample traditional street food, and take in the vibrant atmosphere.
  • Enjoy a sunset cruise: Take a boat tour of the harbor and enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline at sunset.
  • Take a day trip to nearby attractions: If you have more time, consider taking a day trip to nearby attractions such as the seaside town of El Jadida, the ancient ruins of Volubilis, or the charming blue city of Chefchaouen.

Fun and Interesting Facts

Casablanca is a cosmopolitan city with a rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious cuisine, and plenty of things to see and do, making it a must-visit destination in Morocco. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and one of the largest in Africa.
  • The city’s name “Casablanca” means “white house” in Spanish, and was given to the city by the Portuguese in the 16th century due to the white houses that lined the harbor.
  • Casablanca is known for its Art Deco architecture, which can be seen in many of its buildings, including the famous Casablanca Cathedral and the Mahkama du Pacha.
  • The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is one of the largest mosques in the world, with a capacity of up to 105,000 worshippers. Its minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world.
  • Casablanca was also the setting for the famous film “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, which was released in 1942.
  • The city is home to several museums, including the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, the Villa des Arts, and the Abderrahman Slaoui Museum, which showcases Moroccan and Islamic art.
  • Visitors can explore the city’s medina, or old town, which is full of winding streets and traditional souks selling everything from spices to textiles to jewelry.
  • Casablanca is also known for its beaches, including the Ain Diab beach, which is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Moroccan cuisine is a must-try in Casablanca, with dishes like tagine (slow-cooked stews), couscous, and pastilla (a savory pastry filled with meat or seafood) being popular choices.

Overall, Casablanca is a vibrant and bustling city. It is an interesting destination for travelers looking to explore Morocco.