The modern City of Casablanca is a study in Moroccan extremes. With a population of almost four million and the world’s biggest artificial port, it is the most progressive of all cities in Morocco. Young people flirt openly, women dress provocatively, and designer labels are common in the affluent neighborhoods. Many young Moroccans speak to each other in French.
But there is another side to the Port of Casablanca. Rural Moroccans who escaped the drought-ridden countryside to work in the city met high unemployment and housing they could not afford. So Casablanca is also the center for many poverty-stricken slums on the city’s borders with prostitution, drug use, and high crime.
As the economic powerhouse of the country, the Port of Casablanca is a popular tourist destination that combines the old and the new and creates lasting memories.
The relatively new King Hassan II Mosque is the biggest mosque in Morocco and one of the biggest in the world. It boasts the world’s talent minaret. Open to non-Muslims, its interior is breathtaking, with a roof open to the sky, beautiful tile work, and a large hammam in the basement (although it is not being used). Completed in 1993, it is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
The traditional walled town, in the north part of the Port of Casablanca, doesn’t attract as many visitors. Not as attractive as the old towns in Marrakesh or Fes, the Old Medina pre-dates French colonization. Several features have been restored, including the western walls, the bastion, and the colonial-era clock tower.
The Port of Casablanca’s Turkish Baths (Hammam) is a traditional hammam run by a group called Solidarité Féminine (French), helping create social change in the country. It is one of the most beautiful and clean baths in the city, but it also offers job training for single mothers who have few opportunities otherwise. With great prices, the income supports the goals of the organization.
Travelers who want to see the Port of Casablanca and northern Morocco by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.