white is “branca”, this was changed to the Spanish “blanca” when the city came under Spanish influence in the 16th and 17th centuries. Casablanca came to the fore in the 18th century under the sultanate rule of Mohamed ibn Abdallah, as a major trading post for wool, tea, sugar, and grains. A devastating earthquake in 1755 hampered the city’s development for a while, but it continued to grow in importance nonetheless. The city as we see it today owes much to the French protectorate of the 20th century. The first resident-governor of French Morocco, Gen. Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934), wanted to establish Casablanca as Morocco’s financial and commercial center. He engaged architects, town planners, and hundreds of construction teams to rebuild vast areas. The reshaping of Casablanca began around 1912 and went on for more than 50 years, even after the country became independent from France in 1956. The result is a showcase of art deco and Neo- Moorish architecture and one of the best examples of colonial urban planning in the world.
Casablanca lies on a stretch of Atlantic coastline known for its fabulous beaches, their resorts endowed with a range of tourists facilities. There are also picturesque fishing ports and ancient kasbahs and medinas. Inland, vineyards and orange groves stretch toward the Middle Atlas.
Around Casablanca, the hot summers are tempered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, while the winters are pleasantly warm. The climate, similar to that around the Mediterranean, is suitable for olive and pomegranate cultivation on the fertile coastal plain To the northeast and south west of Casablanca, the coastline is dotted with resorts offering golf, windsurfing, sailing , surfing, or simply sun – warmed beaches, Ancient coastal towns vie with modern settlements for the attentions of the traveler.
Art deco is the name given to a design style that was popular from the 1920 s through the early 1940 s. Art deco captured the world’s senses and was represented in both architecture and fashion, as well as interior design. It is based on geometric shapes that are simple but bold, and convex and concave shapes became avant garde. Casablanca’s architects embraced this new movement during a period when the city was undergoing dramatic expansion. However, Moorish influences also crept in, and the result is Casablanca’s unique and interesting architecture: lavish buildings adorned with zellij tilework and stucco surfaces that depict flowers and swirls, with elaborate stone or wrought iron balconies, arches, and domes.
HEART OF THE CITY
Casablanca is a metropolis with a rich past. At its heart are two squares, the place des Nations Unies and, about 0.8 km to the south, the place Mohamed V. These are linked to each other and the rest of the city by a network of wide, busy boulevards . The place des Nations Unies (United Nations Square) was once a small marketplace that was remodeled in the 1920 s to become a fashionable area of arcades, trendy restaurants, and hotels in contrast, the place Mohamed V is the administrative and business center of the city.
No visit to Casablanca would be complete without a visit to the Hassan II Mosque, the fifth largest mosque in the world. It dominates the city skyline. It lies on a 2 ha promontory looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, and it is said that 3,300 craftsmen created the mosque from the designs of French architect Michel Pinseau (1924-1999). Most notably, it has the tallest minaret on the planet, which stands 689 feet (210 m) high. Non – Muslims are allowed entry only as part of a guided tour.
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