The most cosmopolitan of Morocco's cities, with a palpably French rnood, but reflecting the paradox at the heart of Morocco - its unique fusion of ancient and modern, of Africa, Arabia and Europe. The beguiling Casablanca of Bergman and Bogart may be no more - but you'll still find endless interest and enigmas here amid busy boulevards and vibrant bazaars.
Casablanca is Morocco's largest city with a population of 2.6 million and it is also its largest industrial center. Although it has a history going back several centuries and was colonized by the Portuguese who stayed until 1755, it declined into insignificance by the mid 1880's. Its renaissance came with the French protectorate under its first resident general, Lyautey. It was he who decided to establish Casablanca as the administrative centre of the new protectorate and gave Casablanca its wide boulevards, public parks and fountains, and imposing Mauresque civic buildings. Look for the Hassan II Mosque, the gleaming, white medium high-rise 1930's architecture, the many Art-Deco touches and the pedestrian precincts thronged with speedy, fashion-conscious young people. From here, you can visit the Imperial City of Rabat, while magical Marrakech is within reach.
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