Casablanca, a drop of Europe at the heart of Africa
To the impressionable Western spirit, a visit to the Oriental part of the world can be an experience that proves equally fascinating and intimidating. For those who wish to “go East” but fear the inherent cultural clashes, we suggest a stop by Casablanca, a drop of Europe at the heart of Africa.
Casablanca, the main city of Morocco, in Maghreb, makes an exquisitely smooth transition between Occident and Orient. It is a wonderful blend of the best of both cultures, the most important African port and a crossroads for cultures and nations.
African by geography, the Moroccan Casablanca (named Anfa in the past) was first inhabited by Berbers (7th century BC), then used as a port by the Phoenicians and Romans, only to be conquered by the Portuguese in the 15th century CE. The Portuguese and the Spaniards greatly influenced the destiny of the city, who bears a Latin name (“casa blanca” means “white house” in Spanish). The Arabs also left their mark in the 18th century and in the 19th century, Morocco was conquered by the French, who saw potential in the textile industry and agriculture of the region. The French modernized the infrastructure and brought about the “colonial air”’ by the middle of the 20th century, Casablanca was the theatre of European power play – which is artfully depicted in the 1942 Hollywood movie “Casablanca”. In 1956, the French protectorate ended and Morocco regained its independence. Subsequently, the following year, Sultan Mohammed was crowned king.
Casablanca today is a place where booming economy meets tradition, where grand malls stand beside colorful marketplaces where you can buy national handicrafts. Situated by the sea, Casablanca offers extended beaches, long walks through the majestic Arab League Park and a lively nightlife (by the Ain-Diab coast).
There is certainly much to see in Casa, as the locals call their town, and the best way to travel around is renting a car from Casablanca Airport.