This post orginally appeared on Inspiring Vacations and has been re-produced with permission
To really know Morocco, spending a day or two in its capital city is a must
Casablanca may not rank as high on most people’s must-see list but it is where the heart of Morocco lies. The commercial and economic centre of the country, it is located in central-western Morocco and boasts the bustling Port of Casablanca, one of the largest artificial ports in the world and the second largest port in North Africa.
A city that sports hallmarks of its past as a French colony and rich Arab culture, its vibrant streets are lined with art deco buildings sitting side-by-side with old stone medina alleyways, European style cafes and an old Portuguese style fortress with ramparts that offer a view over the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you’re in Casablanca for a day or just a few hours, here’s a snapshot of what to see and do.
Visit the Hassan II Mosque
If stepping inside a mosque in Morocco is high on your list of priorities, the iconic Hassan II Mosque is one of the few that welcome non-Muslims on a guided tour (selected timings everyday except Fridays) of this religious building. Constructed in the 1990s, in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Morocco’s former king, it is the largest mosque in Africa with a minaret of 210 metres, the highest in the world. Decorated with intricate tiles – more than 10,000 m2 of zellige was used – beautiful carvings and an unusual glass floor, allowing worshippers to feel like they’re praying directly over the ocean. Said to accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers, the spacious courtyard that’s open to all can hold an additional 80,000 people. The promenade that runs alongside the mosque also serves as a prime people watching spot with food vendors, strolling locals and the odd soccer game taking place. Modest dress is expected and bring a pair of socks as you will have to remove all footwear before entering.