For anyone who has visited Morocco in the past and is looking for something a little different, sometimes it is good to experience the country with a sidetrack off the beaten path. The following are some examples to try out for an original and exotic vacation in Casablanca.
In a previous article, some of the more unusual destinations in Marrakech were discussed. It is now time to head to exotic Casablanca and see what is on offer there. Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and is situated in the western part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean.
Anyone who has seen the romantic drama of the same name, released in 1942, might have immediately thought of certain lines when reading the name Casablanca. “Here’s looking at you, kid,” might be one of them.
While the city appears to be the set for that old black and white drama, it actually wasn’t as the movie was apparently made in a studio and Casablanca itself has so much more to offer.
The spot where Casablanca is located today was originally settled by Berbers back around the 7th century. The area then became a small, independent kingdom until it was conquered by the Almoravids in 1068. A lot of history passed by until the French appeared on the scene in 1907, when they modeled their city after lovely Marseilles, making Casablanca a cosmopolitan and mostly European city.
However, the tradition of the past was kept and both modern and ancient co-exist perfectly right up until today. Nowadays it is possible to enjoy the exciting new town of Casablanca and enjoy the restaurants, nightlife and popular modern shopping facilities. Some may, however, prefer to relish the more historic and fascinating Medina.
The Medina is less popular with tourists, and hence is an ideal spot to visit for something out of the ordinary on a Morocco vacation. In recent years, much renovation has been undertaken, including the western walls of the Medina and its “skala” or bastion. The colonial-period clock tower has also undergone some renovations.
The locals in the area enjoy visiting the small island of Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane and this is a great location to experience Morocco a little off the beaten path. At low tide, it is possible to walk across to the rocky island. Besides the great views back over as Casablanca, on the island can be seen the tomb of Sidi Abderrhamane Thaalibi, who was a Sufi from Baghdad and was also the founder of Algiers. Moroccans consider him a saint and many make an informal pilgrimage across to the island to reflect on life and religion generally. Others believe that the saint had magical powers and they visit the tomb in hopes of being cured. While visitors can see the outside of the tomb, unfortunately non-Muslims are not allowed to enter.
Back on dry land, so to speak, it is worthwhile to visit the Parc de la Ligue Arabe, which is Casablanca’s largest public park. The park is lovely for a relaxing stroll, but also just on the edge can be found the Casablanca Cathedral (officially “Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur”).
While the Cathedral is no longer used for religious practices, it is a beautiful piece of architecture to visit and offers the best examples of Mauresque (Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish) architecture.
This is just a brief introduction into some of the wonderful options to experience in Morocco when heading off the beaten path in lovely Casablanca.
By Anne Sewell
Casablanca sunset CC by SA 4.0 Marshallhenrie
Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane CC BY 2.0 Carlos ZGZ
Parc de la Ligue Arabe CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Hans Pohl
Casablanca Cathedral CC BY 2.0 icelight