Casablanca is the main gateway to Morocco and most visitors’ first taste of the country, as it is home to the primary international airport. This bustling city is Morocco’s business powerhouse and industrial center, with a modern swagger that is unseen in other parts of the country. Needless to say, compared to the exotic charms of Marrakesh and Fes, it can’t compete, and most visitors only pass through or stay one night.
Despite the fact that Casablanca’s tourist attractions and sights may be few, you will find some gems if you delve a little deeper. The big sight is the massive Hassan II Mosque, and a tour of the building is worth an overnight stay in town. The medina is a charming and photogenic district full of old-fashioned ambience, and the city center is home to many beautiful Art Deco-style facades that architecture fans will adore.
Discover the best places to visit in the city with our list of the top attractions in Casablanca.
This graceful cathedral was built in the 1930s, and its architecture is a harmonious blend of both European and Moroccan style. Unfortunately, it has been left to wither in the past few decades, and is now in need of serious restoration. But even in its current dilapidated state, the structure is still beautiful. If you're lucky, the guardian will allow you inside where you can capture a sense of this building's past glory.
Nearby is the Notre Dame de Lourdes, a church lit by a vast stained-glass window covering more than 800 square meters.
On the shoreline, just beyond the northern tip of Casablanca's medina (old city), the Hassan II mosque dominates the entire city. Finished in 1993, it is the second largest mosque in the world, covering two hectares in size with the world's tallest minaret (200 meters high). The prayer hall can accommodate 25,000 worshippers, while the courtyard (which boasts a retractable roof) can fit another 80,000.
Astonishingly intricate decoration covers every centimeter of surface. The location, right on the tip of the rocky bay above the ocean, is thoroughly dramatic. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque on guided tours, which begin at the mosque's western entrance several times per day.
Place Mohamed V is the central plaza of Casablanca. It is home to many of the city's important official buildings, including the main post office, Palace of Justice, Prefecture, French consulate, and the main Bank of Morocco. The building facades all sport the neo-Moorish style that French Resident-General Lyautey planned out for the city as he set about modernizing Casablanca in the early 20th century. The square has a central fountain and well-tended gardens. During the evenings, it is a local favorite spot for promenading
About 237 kilometers south of Casablanca, Safi has been an important port since Roman times, but it was the Almohade rulers who surrounded the city with grand ramparts and made it an intellectual and spiritual center. The Portuguese occupied the city in 1508 and added to the architecture by building the stately Dar el Bahar Fortress on the shoreline-now the town's most recognizable monument.
Safi is Morocco's most famous ceramic center, and once you've visited the fortress, Safi's medina is a great place to spend an afternoon. Pottery Souk and the National Ceramic Museum are the old town's star attractions
For a small town, El Jadida is packed full of interesting things to do and is surrounded by beautiful strips of sand, perfect to flop onto when you've dosed up on history. In the Citadel area, built by the Portuguese, you can scramble up onto the walls for excellent sea views and then visit the old prison, which also once functioned as the town's synagogue.
Also in the citadel area, check out the atmospheric cisterns, which date from the 16th century and were used as a filming location in the famous Orson Welles' movie Othello. El Jadida lies about 102 kilometers south of Casablanca