Casablanca: The Top 10 Attractions

Farih Mohamed

Farih Mohamed

Farih Mohamed is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Morocco).
Farih Mohamed

Latest posts by Farih Mohamed (see all)

Casablanca (which means “white house” in Spanish, or “Dar baida” in Arabic) is the largest city in Morocco, with the busiest airport and one of the largest ports in the country.  Over 3 million people populate this beautiful and modern city.  For that reason (and more) Casa, as the locals call it, is the commercial capital of the kingdom.

As you walk through its charming, wide streets, the city will slowly reveal its French colonial legacy via its distinct Mauresque architecture, which is a unique blend of the Moorish style and the European Art Deco.  Where the skyscrapers stand side by side with a small souk – the Medina, one can easily see that the modernity and tradition coexist here in a perfect union and harmony.

So, let’s discover the top 10 attractions that you should not miss here in Casablanca.

Casablanca: The Top 10 Attractions - Global Storybook1. The Hassan II Mosque 

This is Casablanca’s most prominent sight, which is located right in the center of the city.  The mosque’s minaret with its huge size (at 210 meters it’s the tallest one in the world), dominates the entire city’s skyline, and tricks you into thinking that it’s much near than it really is.

This beautiful landmark of Casablanca is also the third largest mosque in the world.  It was funded by voluntary public donations, and designed in a Moorish style by a French architect Michel Pinseau.  More than 35,000 craftsmen worked very hard so that it could be opened on schedule in 1993, after 6 years of construction.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco - Global StorybookOne of the most distinctive characteristics of Hassan II Mosque is its spectacular location.  It rises high above the ocean on a rocky outcrop reclaimed from the sea.  The mosque can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers inside its breathtaking premises, as well as an additional 80,000 outdoors.  In some picturesque spots, one can see the ocean right below it, shimming through a glass facade.

The Hassan II Mosque is also one of the few mosques that are open to non-Muslims via one hour guided tours, conducted in French, English, German and Spanish.  On the tour you will have a chance to visit the magnificent prayer hall, the ablutions rooms and the hammam.

  • Address: Boulevard de la Corniche
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: guided tours: July – August: daily at 2:30pm;  September – June: Saturday – Thursday 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am and 2:00pm, Friday 9:00am and 2:00pm
  • Price: 120 dirham adults

2. The Old Medina

One of the most historic sites in the city is the Old Medina (the word “medina” simply means “city” in Arabic).  In the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca consisted of just the old medina, which included a few narrow streets, fountains, palaces, mosques and some buildings (most of which were from the 19th century) and no more than a few thousand inhabitants, surrounded by walls.  One of the remaining walls is still facing the port and offers incredible panoramic views over the ocean.

The Old Medina is great place to shop for some cheap souvenirs, as well as some traditional Moroccan items, like clothes, shoes, bags, pottery, spices, herbs, mint tea, food, sweets and much more.

  • Address: North-West corner of Place des Nations Unies
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: from dusk till dawn
  • Price: free to enter

3. Place Mohammed V

Indisputably, the Place Mohammed V is the administrative heart, as well as the central meeting point of Casablanca.  This beautiful and wide square was designed by a French architect Henri Prost with a mixture of elements of the French and the Moorish styles.  It features several elegant fountains in the center, as well as lots of pigeons which love to hangout in the square.

On the West side of the square an amazing, historic post-office from the 1919, attracts the eye with its stunning traditional features.  On the South side, around the old Prefecture, there’s the strikingly beautiful Clock Tower built in the 1937.  On the East side there’s the Law Court building (Palais de Justice) from the 1922, and finally on the North side there’s the elegant Bank AL Maghreb.

Place Mohammed V, Casablanca, Morocco - Global Storybook

Photo © J.K2507 – Shutterstock.com

  • Address: Ave Hassan II
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

4. Villa des Arts

Built in the 1934, in a chic Art Deco style, the “Villa des Arts” includes numerous contemporary art exhibitions of both Moroccan and some international artists.  It also frequently hosts a number of cultural activities based on various themes from Moroccan heritage.  The gallery was recently acquired by a nonprofit called ONA Foundation, which is one of Morocco’s leading cultural organizations, and is now responsible for running the site.

villa des arts, Casablanca, Morocco - Global Storybook

  • Address: 30 Boulevard Brahim Roudani Rue Abou El Kacem Chabi
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 9:30am – 7:00pm; closed on Sunday, Monday and some public holidays
  • Price: free

5. Quartier Habous

Situated in the Southern part of the city, the Habous was built by the French in the 1930s.  It combines Moroccan architecture with some exquisite French elements.  The Habous contains interesting open areas, such as a market, shops, mosques, a kissaria, as well as public baths known as Hammams.

As you enter the Habous, you’ll pass by the “Mahakma du Pacha” which was built in 1952 and is currently used by the local government.  This building is a great example of traditional Arabic architecture adapted to the modern needs.  Immediately north of the Habous there’s the Casablanca’s Royal Palace (which is closed to the public).

The Habous is also one of the best places in Casablanca to buy some nice souvenirs – from Moroccan handicrafts to the traditional Moroccan clothes, like kaftans or djellabas.  And if you want to experience the magic of the Habous in full, go inside one of the traditional baths, found within the arches of the Hammams.

  • Address: Boulevard Victor Hugo
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: from dusk till dawn
  • Price: free to enter

6. Abderrahman Slaoui Museum

The MAS, as it’s also known, has permanent exhibits that feature the nation’s treasures, including some antique and vintage jewelry collections, some old posters, costumes as well as other interesting objects collected around the world by the Moroccan businessman Abderrahman Slaoui.  There is also space dedicated to the work of Mohamed BenAli RBati, one of the greatest examples of Moroccan figurative painting, as well as metal and kitsch crystal.  In addition, there’s a hall filled with temporary exhibitions, and a small café with lovely bay views.

  • Address: Rue Du Parc
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm; closed Sunday, Monday and some public holidays
  • Price: 30 dirham adults
  • Official website: http://www.musee-as.ma

7. The “Sacré-Coeur” Cathedral

Once you pass by a huge garden called “Parc de la ligue Arabe”, which is a nice place to go for a stroll between a set of beautifully aligned tall palm trees, you will come face to face with Casablanca’s most classic piece of colonial architecture – the amazing Sacré-Coeur Cathedral (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).  The Cathedral is a twin-tower structure, built in 1930 by a French architect Paul Tournon.  It is a truly magnificent blend of the Art Deco, Mauresque and the Neo-Gothic styles.

The Cathedral no longer serves as an active religious place.  It became a cultural center, which is open to the public most days.  It also provides access to the towers with unbeatable views over the city, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

The “Sacré-Coeur” Cathedral, Casablanca, Morocco - Global Storybook

  • Address: Angle rue d’Alger et boulevard Rachdi, Quartier Gautier
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: vary depending on the season
  • Price: free (there’s a small fee to enter the towers)

8. Museum of Moroccan Judaism

The Museum of Moroccan Judaism, was set up and is run jointly by the Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, and is the only Jewish museum in the Arab world!

The museum shows the history of Judaism in Morocco through various national collections and exhibitions, including scarves, kaftans, prayer shawls and other religious objects and items, as well as a reconstructed synagogue.  The museum stands as a great testimony of peaceful coexistence between these two cultures in Morocco.

  • Address: 81 rue Chasseur Jules Gros
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Summer: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm, Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm; Winter: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm; Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm; closed on Saturdays and some public and religious holidays
  • Price: 50 dirham
  • Official website: http://casajewishmuseum.com

9. SKY 28

There is a bar and a club on top of the Twin Center.  Offering some delicious cocktails and live music, this bar is also famous for its exceptional panoramic views over the city, the Atlantic Ocean, the Hassan II Mosque, as well as the port.  It is the best place to enjoy a sunset in Casablanca, while relaxing with a pricey, yet worthy cocktail.  As the name suggests, it is located on the 28th floor, inside a 5-star luxury hotel.

10. La Corniche

Extending over several kilometers in length, the boulevard de La Corniche is a nice place to go for a walk on.  It includes a beautiful promenade, a jogging trail stretching all the way from the lighthouse up to the end of the jetty, as well as some stunning panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean.  La Corniche is also full of entertainment options – cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlors, luxury hotels, playgrounds, shows, clubs, cinemas – just to name a few.  Most have very affordable prices.

  • Address: Boulevard de la Corniche
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation:  24/7
  • Price: free

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Comments

  1. Some really good information about Casablanca! 🙂 I have already been to Morocco but skipped so many cities! I guess you need at least one month there to see everything.

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