Casablanca has one clear claim to fame. Ironically the 1942 eponymous movie that everyone associates with Morocco was filmed completely in Hollywood. This classic black and white movie of love and idealism was a favourite of mine as a young adult. I was intensely disappointed in the 1980s when researching travel in Africa to discover that this exotic sounding city had little to entice the tourist. Fortunately there have been changes since then to make Morocco’s largest city more attractive to tourists.
I have arrived a day and a half before my tour commences and have booked into a downtown hotel which works out well. While most sights are 1-2 kms apart this is a flat and easy walking city very amenable to an extended day of walking. To pay homage to the movie, I head off to Rick’s café for some outside pictures. From there it is down to the Hassan 11 mosque perched on reclaimed land over the sea for sunset pictures. This is the third largest mosque in the world behind only the pilgrimage icons of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Completed in 1993 it can accommodate 25,000 worshippers inside and a further 80,000 in the immediate surrounds. It is spectacular both for its location perched above the sea and its massive size.
The day ends with dinner at Rick’s café. The interioat Ricksr is well appointed and resembles a 1940s style restaurant but sadly it is nowhere near an accurate reproduction of the movie set. Nonetheless a martini as a nod to the fact that Rick’s was a gin joint and a reasonable meal completes the tourist experience.
The next morning starts at the Habbous district built by the French 100 years ago. The royal palace is here and this pretty old quarter has an atmospheric marketplace.
Passing through town I catch the Mohammed V square.
Finally the Notre Dame church which is, unfortunately locked.