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Casablanca is perhaps the most westernised of all the cities in Morocco and is known as the commercial capital of the country, although the political capital is Rabat 55 miles further north-east along the coast. Flights to Casablanca from the UK take about three hours.
The mystery, intrigue and romance of this city are so legendary they made a Hollywood blockbuster out of it...
Casablanca conjures up thoughts of the great film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and its famous “Play it again, Sam” reference, but this city has a long and exciting history dating back to the Berbers in the 7th century BC.
Flights to Casablanca take around three hours from the UK, landing at Mohammed V International Airport (CMN). Casablanca flights go direct from London and from a number of other European airports. Set 19 miles north-west of the city, the airport has trains, buses, taxis and hire cars all available for the journey into Casablanca.
The city has had a chequered history, having been under occupation at various times by the Romans, Phoenicians, Portuguese and the French. The old walled medina at the heart of the city contrasts with the more modern buildings that have sprung up along the shoreline. An unmistakeable sight against the skyline is the twin tower complex of two skyscrapers offering hotel accommodation, shopping centres and offices.
One building that must be visited is the Hassan II Mosque, built on the seafront and one of the largest mosques in the world. Although completed less than 20 years ago, the mosque is built according to well-established traditions and features incredible mosaic work, calligraphy and massive titanium doors. By contrast, the Sacré-Coeur Cathedral built by the Catholic French early in the 20th century fell into disuse after occupation and its neo-Gothic architecture plays host to exhibitions and fairs.
The Museum of Moroccan Judaism is worth a visit for its insights into the blending of Jewish and Moroccan culture in the period before the world wars and is one of only two museums of its kind in the Arab world.
Boulaouane Kasbah, just south of the city, is an 18th-century fortress that boasts a tower offering spectacular views across the surrounding countryside and is a cool haven away from the heat of the city.
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