Casablanca offers its share of Moroccan culture and sights to see, but it pales in comparison to some if it's neighboring cities. Explore Casablanca and the surrounding cities for the best sights in Morocco.
Local tourist offices provide information about the Morocco, maps, hotel and hostel bookings, information about getting around on public transport, tours, and how to find the best deals in the Morocco. The official tourism site for Morocco is http://www.visitmorocco.com and for Casablanca http://www.visitcasablanca.ma/.
Tourist Information Office
95 boulevard Mohamed V
Tel: 22 15 24
Casablanca Tourist Office
60 bis, Avenue Hassan II, Casablanca
Tel: +212 (0)52 220 6266 /65
Zakat is the giving of alms and one of the five pillars of Islam. Many Moroccans give coins to beggars as giving alms brings baraka, or blessings from God. A common "donation" is 1-5 dirhams is, but it is not mandatory to give. You may say "Allah yasahel" (may God improve your situation), or just smile and keep moving.
Hassan II Mosque
Address: Blvd Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Casablanca
Tel.: 022 48 28 86
Admission: adult DH 120.00/ student DH60.00/ child DH30.00
Hours: Tours at Sat-Thu 09:00, 10:00, 11:00 & 14:00
The primary attraction in Casablanca is this magnificent mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. Jutting into the Atlantic the mosque is the largest in North Africa and the third largest in the world with room for 25,000 worshipers. It's minaret is the tallest in the world at 210 meters. The mosque was started in and intended as a 60th birthday of the former Moroccan king, Hassan II. However, the building was unfinished until 1993 and $800 million was spent on the construction.
The Old Medina
A small traditional walled town, there is only one wall left, particularly because of an earth quake in 1755. This area of town pre-dates the French re-design and is being revitalized to it's former glory. This includes: the western walls of the medina, skala, bastion, and colonial-period clock tower.
The Sqala symbolizes Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah's reign. It offers views of the medina and the port. The El Hank lighthouse, built in 1920, symbolizes Morocco's economic success. Place de la Comédie, to the west of the medina, holds a busy market. Also note Bab El Mersa, the navy gate at the entrance.
Ville Nouvelle (New Town)
The French period of rule is on display in the New Town. Designed by the French architect Henri Prost, it was a model of a new town at that time. The main streets radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies, previously the main market of Anfa. The style is a combination of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Deco.
Parc de la Ligue Arabe
Morocco's largest public park is on the edge of the Casablanca Cathedral (Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur). The cathedral is now a open for visits and a beautiful example of Mauresque architecture.
A neighborhood on the ocean, west of the Hassan II Mosque, this was once a thriving resort area . It is still a popular area for hotels and nightclubs. The Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman is built off shore past the Corniche. It is only accessible at low tide and is limited to Muslims.
Mahkama du Pacha
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00-12:00 & 14:00-18:00
This is a Hispanic-Moorish building comprised of more than 60 ornate rooms. Intricate carved wooden ceilings, stuccoes, wrought-iron railings, and tiled floors offer exotic allure. Guides are usually necessary.
The Hammam, or Turkish Baths, are a highlight of Moroccan culture. They consist of steam baths, professional massages, and cold baths. They are an important part of therapeutic health as well as society. Once reserved only for the upper class of Moroccan society, they can now be enjoyed by all.
Between the El Hank lighthouse and Sidi Bou Abderrahmane mausoleum, the coast is an attraction for locals and visitors. Swimming pools, public and private beaches, and discotheques make this the place to be.
Casablanca has the only greyhound track in Africa. Irish bred greyhounds race there regularly with races in the evening on Mondays and Thursdays.
Other Moroccan Cities
About 3 hours from Casablanca, Marrakesh is the major tourist destination in Morocco. At the foot of the Atlas mountains, the "Ochre city", is a former imperial city with a fortified city (médina) and modern developments.
The capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco, it is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg.
The second largest city of Morocco, it is one of the country's four imperial cities. It comprises of three distinct parts, Fes el Bali (old, walled city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah) and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of Fes).
A city with rich, cosmopolitan, history, it was not until 1923 that Tangier was attributed an international status by foreign colonial powers, thus becoming a destination for many Europeans, Americans and others. The city is undergoing rapid development and modernization with new 5-star hotels, modern business district, and a new airport terminal and soccer stadium.
Agadir is known for its beaches and is a beautiful example of modern Morocco.
This town has one of the largest Berber souks in the High Atlas Mountains every Tuesday. It is about an hour from Marrakech.
This mountain town is inland from Tangier and has white-washed buildings, blue doors, and olive trees.
Ancient sea-side town that is becoming a tourist destination. It is located off of Marrakech.
There is a range of tours with different focuses, price points, and modes of transportation. Many inexpensive tours start at the larger hostels, and most accommodations will have pamphlets.
Day Tours are available to visit specific attractions or just as a day guide. Guides organize one to four day treks in the Sahara .
Beware informal guides you find on the street. They may offer services for free and than charge an exorbitant fee.
Estimate the Pros & Cons of a tour:
- Tours may be less expensive than booking everything individually. Finding a package with airfare can offer vast savings.
- A vast reduction in stress as you don't need to do the majority of the planning.
- Instant comraderie and the feeling of safety and security in a group.
- A knowledgeable guide who speaks your language can offer specialized information about the sights.
- Tours are not as flexible. If you want to move on, you will just have to wait.
- Local tour guides usually earn a commission by taking a group to specific shops and stores near major sights. You may find yourself getting the "hard sale"
- Traveling in a large group makes it difficult to meet local people.
There are many events and festivals in Casablanca of both religious and cultural significance. Moroccans are warm and welcoming people that will easily invite your participation.
Independence Celebration - This festival on January 11th commemorates Morocco signing the Proclamation of Independence. A celebration is also held in November.
Almond Tree Festiva - Rejoicing in the end to the winter rains, this festival welcomes white budding flowers on almond trees. Held in Tafraoute, Morocco, "The Almond Capital", people enjoy the trees in full bloom.
Urban Culture on Stage - A non-religious festival, this event showcases covers different genres of music including rap, hip-hop and fusion.
Fatih Mouharam - The Islamic New Year is celebrated across the country. Alcohol is unavailable and there is dancing and celebrations.
Eid el Arch - Commemorating the coronation of King Mohammed VI, this national holiday is filled with live music, dancing and shows at various venues.
Eid el Mouloud - Celebrates the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.
Boulevard des Jeunes Musiciens - Known in English as the "Boulevard of the Young Musicians", this festival is dedicated to the youth. Held over 4 days, the festival offers all genres of music from traditional Moroccan to Western styles.
Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival - Outdoor venues come alive for this popular festival of traditional folk performances. Berber musicians, dancers of the High Atlas, Andalus-inspired musicians of the North, trance-inducing music of the Southern Gnaouas, and belly dancing are all celebrated.
Asilah Arts Festival - An annual cultural extravaganza, this festival takes place in the first two weeks of August. Artists from around the world gather and decorate an entire wall at the Medina.
Ramadan - Ramadan falls on dates according to the Islamic calendar and changes year to year. It is the most important celebration of the year. Office and banks hours are decreased and Muslim followers are restricted from eating during daylight hours. Alcohol is also largely unavailable. After nightfall, feasting and celebrating are underway.
Eid al Fitr - This festival marks the end of Ramadan and is one fo the most important holidays of the year. It is a time of joy, family, feasting, praying and gift giving.
Révolution du Roi et du Peuple - The King and the People's Revolution Day is a public holiday with parties and festive activities at different venues across the Morocco.
Imilchil Marriage Festival - Imilchil is located in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco. This quaint Berber village has a well-preserved history. The surrounding tribes, Ait Sokham and Ait Bouguemmaz, gather in an annual collective marriage where women search and choose their husband. The fiancé part of the festival is staged on the site of the tomb of the Oldman, who is venerated in the high atlas. About 30,000 people from the mountains assemble under tents for three days with their flocks, their horses and camels.
Date Festival - A popular festival in the northern town of Erfoud, this three-day event is the setting for a million date-palm trees. There is music, dancing and feasting.
Fête de l'Indépendance - This festival commemorates Morocco breaking free from French colonial rule on November 18th, 1956. Festivals celebrating independence actually occur 5 times throughout the year with celebrations on January 11th (the Proclamation of Independence) and November 18th as national holidays.
Christmas - The small Christian population celebrates the birth of Christ on the 25th and the days leading up to it.