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City Background

  • Originally, Anfa, a 7th century Berber city, Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco, is a place of mystery and romance, a thrilling mixture of old and new: it is a cocktail with just the right blend of danger, chance and excitement.


  • Casablanca grew from a small village into a teeming city only 150 years ago. Because of its many conquests, it inevitably became a cosmopolitan melting-pot of cultures (including American, French, German, Czech, Norwegian, Bulgarian and Russian).


  • It has been both a busy port, a fortress and a cultural centre. The name “Casa Blanca”, or “white house” in Portuguese, was coined by medieval Portuguese conquerors who destroyed the city and then built it up into a fortress.  Its Arabic name, Dar al Baïda, is a translation of the Portuguese!


  • The city has seen everything from pirates (for whom it was a veritable paradise!) to earthquakes (which caused the Portuguese to abandon it in the 18th century).


  • By 1910, Casablanca was under French control, and all because of a squabble between the locals and the French, over the building of a railway via graveyard between the local and the French. It remained a colonial subject until it gained its independence in 1956.


  • Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque boasts the tallest minaret in the world. Visiting the city is like travelling in time between modern boutiques and old medina streets – it is a capital in everything except designation.


  • If you happen to find yourself in Casablanca today, you can even go to a replica of Ricks’s café, where the pianist will play ‘As time goes by’ at your request!