Mention Casablanca to most people and they’ll undoubtedly think of it as it was portrayed in the classic film named after it, a hotbed of intrigue and romance. In real life, however, Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco, as well as the country’s economic capital. Casablanca is home to the headquarters and main factories of leading local and international corporations, as well as being Morocco’s main industrial zone. Visitors walking Casablanca’s streets, however, may still be able to find traces of the romance and mystique the film evoked in viewers.
One of the must-see attractions for visitors is the Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco and the third largest in the world. The mosque was built on reclaimed land and almost half the mosque lies over the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, part of the mosque boasts a glass floor, which allows the faithful to worship directly over the sea. From the outside, you can see a 210 meter minaret (tower), from which spotlights shine at night in the direction of Mecca. However, non-Muslims are only allowed to enter the mosque during the one English tour per day, so make sure to check the schedule.
Other places in the city worth visiting are the city square, Place Mohammed V, the town market Marche Central, the ancient quarter and the Jewish Quarter in the Lusitania which is home to Benarroch, the city’s main synagogue. You can end your day by enjoying the nightlife at the Boulevard de la Corniche, a boardwalk fronting the Atlantic where many of the city’s finest beaches, cafes and restaurants can be found.
Finally, what would a trip to Casablanca be without a visit to Rick’s Café, a restaurant-piano bar that recreates the one owned by Humphrey Bogart in the movie? Rick’s is housed in a traditional 1930s Moroccan mansion with a central courtyard. The menu offers a wide selection of seafood dishes, and at night, the pianist plays standards from the ‘40s and the ‘50s, along with the inevitable As Time Goes By.