A Legacy of Cultural InfluencesIyna Bort Caruso
For a city with as much global name recognition as Casablanca, the Moroccan metropolis is surprisingly undiscovered by visitors. But that’s changing. Casablanca has a growing ex-pat population who recognizes its many charms.
Casablanca is on the Atlantic Coast with a population of about 3.7 million. It is Morocco’s largest city, and its international airport is the country’s busiest. The city has benefited from the opening of a highly anticipated high speed rail system—Africa’s first—that cut travel time by more than half from Casablanca to the port city of Tangiers.
Casablanca was founded by the Berbers and governed under a succession of rulers. Its port made it especially attractive to European traders. The country’s years as a French protectorate, from 1912-1956, left a legacy of cultural influences, notably in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture. Newer buildings blend European and Moorish design. In recent years, preservation efforts have been stepped up to protect the city’s built heritage.
Experiencing Casablanca is like bouncing through the centuries. The medina isn’t as old as others in the Moroccan kingdom, but it’s a glimpse into history and traditional Casablancan life. The symbolic heart of the city is Place Mohammed V, an expansive plaza from the early 20th century surrounded by such important and architecturally significant institutions as City Hall and the Palace of Justice. The Corniche, a lively seafront promenade, is lined with restaurants, lounges and private clubs. There’s even a surf culture here and in nearby coastal towns.
A modern marvel stands at one end of the Corniche: the Hassan II Mosque, among the largest in Africa. Thousands of artisans were involved in its construction. Their handiwork is evident in the carved stone and woodwork, gilded ceilings and intricate mosaic designs. The mosque’s soaring minaret is a landmark of the city skyline.
The luxury real estate market in Casablanca offers beachside estates, upmarket apartments and pieds-a-terre. The original name of Casablanca was Anfa. Today, Anfa is a district synonymous with exclusivity. The neighborhood features modern hillside residences overlooking the Atlantic as well as a prestigious golf club and equestrian club. Other areas that attract wealthy families are Gauthier and Racine. There are no restrictions on international buyers.