CASABLANCA – ART DECO II: CITY CENTRE AND OLD MEDINA
Languages available: EN FR ARB
Customizable tour: Yes
Recommended group size per guide: 25
Duration: 4 hours
DESCRIPTION – Casablanca: Art Deco II: City Centre and Old Medina
Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city it’s remarkable for the incredible variety of architectural design on show in the city. A legacy of the city’s French colonial past, its wide boulevards contain Mauresque architecture—a combination of Moorish style and European Art Deco. The diverse skyline offers something for every taste when visiting the city on a leisure or business trip. In this guided tour with an architect you’ll be able to see some of the highlights that convert Casablanca to an incredible must-see destination. We’ll explore the city centre and the Old Medina, among other neighborhoods, going through some of the most important landmarks of the city.
We’ll start at Old Medina seeing Marché Central (central marketplace), located in the heart of the old centre of Casablanca, the Central Market is framed by Boulevard Mohamed V and Allal Ben Abdallah Street. It is the architect Pierre Bousquet (who also designed the Fine Arts building) who drew the plans. The building, with its arcades and covered walkways, was built between 1918 and 1919.
With a short walk we’ll arrive at Cinema Rialto (Pierre Jabin, 1929) which holds 1300 seats, of which 400 are on the characteristic mezzanine level. Despite the many renovations over the years, the building’s architectural style is still considered entirely Art Deco. Really close we find Place des Nations Unies, one of the largest squares in the city, the place has a tram station, a souk, a cinema, several restaurants, luxury hotels, cafes, shops, bars, banks and many offices. It was built in the 1970s. A tall clock tower and balloon-like metal sculpture (Jean-François Zevaco,1975) are landmarks of the square.
We’ll walk through Boulevard Félix Houphouët-Boigny until arrive at Casa-Port Railway Station (AREP + Groupe3 Architectes, 2015). The project creates a high speed rail link between Tangiers and Casablanca. It is located in the core of the city neighboring the city’s port, the marina and Hassan II Mosque and offers on-site commercial and leisure services to its users.
Our next stop will be La Sqala Café, a famous restaurant that still preserves the cannons of the old defensive post and guards the beautiful Andalusian garden inside the fortress, full of life thanks to the exotic plants and mentholated flowerbeds.
We’ll end our tour seeing Hassan II Mosque (Michel Pinseau, 1993), being one of the largest mosques of the world, whose minaret is 210 meters (689 ft). It took more than seven years and as many as 10,000 artisans to complete the intricate masterpiece. The mosque is fashioned out of materials from around the country: marble from Agadir, cedar from the Middle Atlas and granite from Tafraoute. The mosque’s historical architecture was inspired by Moorish designs.