So, are you yearning to place Casablanca in your travel radar?
It has been described as a place for travelers who want to trade their tourist garb with that of the local and experience its yesterday and today on a linear equation. If that fits your travel fetish, you could look forward to a sensorial travel experience. And with Oman Air* all set to initiate non-stop flights to Casablanca from July 1, your chances of experiencing it in all its glory is just a couple of months away.
Start planning with this quick guide to some of the popular destinations.
Begin your Casablanca trip, if you must, with an ode to the namesake movie. Visit Rick’s Café to soak in the movie inspired bar. It has the same mosaic floors and arched doorways and little decorative elements, replicating scenes from the movie with the piano man taking it back to the 40s (the most popular request is, obviously, ‘As time goes by’). The Café, which opened in 2004, is housed in an old courtyard type of a mansion that is set strikingly against the old medina.
Old city of Medina
For a slice of the old world charm, visit Casablanca’s medina, whose cobbled by-lanes and alleyways look like a picture taken out from old sepia toned postcards that reflect the good old days. While some regulars feel the old city does not capture the medieval essence of other Moroccan medinas, the Casa medina does have its charms that come out starkly in a walk through its alleyways. It gives a vibrant, throbbing feel of Casablanca.
Casablanca’s Corniche is a picture perfect destination for surfers. In fact there are several surf schools lining up the Corniche area giving it that adventure touch. It is here that the Quiksilver Pro surf competition takes place every September, attracting surfers from around the world to compete with the best. Located in the popular Ain Diab suburb, it is one of the happening places of Casablanca.
No travel or tour can be complete without tucking into street food and indulging in some shopping. While there are several options for the former, the latter demands a visit to Casablanca’s central market. This market, right in the heart of the city, has several attractions; but what makes it interesting is the presence of locals, both as traders and buyers. There are fresh fruits, vegetables and spices that give the market an exotic smell.
Hassan II Mosque
This is one of the few mosques in Casablanca that is open to the public, with tours in different languages to meet the requirements of visitors. Located at the northern tip of Casablanca’s old city or Medina, it is one of the largest mosques in the world, spread over two hectares. What grabs your attention is its sheer size and the intricate décor on the surface, which was put together by 10,000 artisans over a period of seven years. The soothing ambience, combined with its inspiring architectural and cultural composition, makes it a must-visit destination in Casablanca.
Cathedral du Sacre Coeur
History has a way of turning even the most dilapidated structure into a monument, like this Church, which, despite its crying need for restoration, has proven to be a tourist attraction of Casablanca. To its credit, it has a striking blend of Morocco and Europe in its architecture and art deco; minaret-like towers and decorative windows enhance its appeal.
Villa Des Arts De Casablanca
For the artistically inclined, a visit to Villa des Arts in Casablanca is in order. A part of the ONA Foundation, one of Morocco’s primary cultural foundations, it is aimed at promoting contemporary arts, while maintaining a reference to Moroccan culture and heritage – like the Pop Art of graffiti artist Ramzi Adek, which was on display at La Villa des Arts, recently. There is more on the art scene in Casablanca, as its historic Art Deco villas have, over the years, been converted into galleries and museums.
La Grande Casa
If you are short on time and want a quick panoramic view of Casablanca, your best bet is the 27th floor of the La Grande Casa, or Casablanca Twin Tower. The 377 foot tall towers are located in Maarif district, right in the heart of the city. Both towers reach up to 28 floors, providing visitors at the 27th a perfect view of the city.
Casablanca does grow on you …
* Oman Air’s new Casablanca flight will start on 1 July and will be the only non-stop service to Casablanca from Oman. Flight WY171 will depart Muscat four times per week at 01.20, arriving in Casablanca at 07.10. The return flight WY172 will depart Casablanca at 08.20, arriving in Muscat at 19.15.