As one of the world’s largest mosques, the magnificent Hassan II Mosque not only boasts a capacity for over 100,000 worshippers, but is also one of Casablanca’s top tourist attractions. Built to commemorate the 60th birthday of former Moroccan King Hassan II, the elaborate mosque was the brainchild of French architect Michel Pinseau and opened its doors in 1993.
From its regal cliff-top perch overlooking the ocean to its soaring 210-meter high minaret (the world’s highest) that shines a beam towards Mecca in the evening hours, everything about the Hassan II Mosque is grandiose. No expense was spared for the landmark building, with hand-carved ceilings, 10-meter-high zellijs, gleaming marble floors and Venetian stained glass windows, complemented by high-tech conveniences like heated flooring and a retractable roof. Inspired by the Koranic verse that tells of God's throne being built upon water.
With its scenic promenade bordering the western seafront of Casablanca and a cluster of stylish hotels and beach resorts, the Ain Diab Corniche is one of the city’s most fashionable districts. The coastal suburb is traversed by the 3km-long Corniche Boulevard, which stretches from the magnificent Hassan II mosque in the east to the landmark El-Hank Lighthouse in the west, offering expansive views along the Atlantic. At the western tip of the Corniche, the mausoleum and shrine of Sidi Aberrahman is one of the area’s principal attractions, an important place of Muslim pilgrimage, perched on a cliff-top and only accessible at low tide.
On summer days, locals flock to the beaches of the Ain Diab Resort, which is lined with beach clubs and swimming pools, but the real draw comes after dark, when the nightclubs and restaurants open up along the boardwalk and the Corniche becomes a central hub of Casablanca’s nightlife.
A short stroll or tram ride from United Nations Place, in the heart of Casablanca city center, the Marche Central de Casablanca is the city’s main market, located along the busy shopping street of Muhammad V Boulevard. Crammed with locals, the daily market is fascinating place for tourists to get a taste of local culture, as well as pick up bargains, with everything from food to fresh flowers and traditional clothing on sale.
The vibrant stalls serve up a myriad of fresh produce, with mounds of fruit and vegetables, a vast array of fish and shellfish, and a rainbow of spices filling the senses with exotic sights and smells. This is also a popular spot for lunch, with a number of renowned fish restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries lining the market place.