Morocco: West Atlas
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
  Morocco flag Atlantic Coast: Casablanca  
       
  Street scene, Casablanca, Morocco tourist shop, Casablanca, MoroccoCasablanca is the economic, finance and business center of Morocco and has many features of a big city (government institutions, high-rise office buildings, markets, parks, schools, apartment blocks, fast food restaurants, cafés, etc) but very few that would elicit glowing superlatives. It is working city!
  Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco

Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, MoroccoStrolling in Casablanca, the highest concentration of visual interest is in and around Ville Nouvelle (New Town). It was designed by the French architect Henri Prost and was a model of a new town at that time. The main streets radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Moorish and Art Deco. Today, the buildings are mostly a little off-white and looking a little drab. A few of the fanciest have gold highlights.

Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco
  Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco
       
  Place des Nations Unies, Casablanca, Morocco

French clock tower, medina, Casablanca, Morocco

The small cluster of points of interest in the "center" of town, as defined by Place des Nations Unies. In the corner of the large plaza is a modern hemispheric sculpture, presumably representing earth. Otherwise, Place des Nations Unies is rather bare and hard, and surrounded by wide boulevards that it extend the urban-desert, to make it is not very inviting.

Across the street, now integrated into the wall of the old medina, is a clock tower (behind the hemisphere) that was the work of the French. It was originally built in 1911, by order of the French Captain Dessigny, Until the construction of Mosque Hassan II, it was the most emblematic buildings in Casablanca. It was initially situated next to the old city wall, which was destroyed a little later to give more access to the port, so the tower stood alone in the middle of the square for several decades. It was a symbol of the French colonial power. Dessigny's aim was to convince the inhabitants of Casablanca of the need to get used to the pace of life in an industrial society. In 1948, they began to demolish it, because of its precarious state of disrepair. Forty-five years later, in 1993, it was reconstructed by theBoulevard Hassan I, Casablanca, Morocco Moroccan municipal authorities at it current location.  It was reproduced in its original design.

Leading off to the east from the plaza is an extension of  Boulevard. Hassan I. For a couple of blocks it is a divided roadway, with a median that is landscaped with royal palms. It commemorates President Felix Houphouet Boigny, the first president of Ivory Coast (1960-1993).

Boulevard Hassan I, Casablanca, Morocco

Boulevard Hassan I, Casablanca, Morocco

       
  Central market, Casablanca, Morocco Central market, Casablanca, Morocco Central market, Casablanca, Morocco Central market, Casablanca, Morocco Central market, Casablanca, Morocco

The most colorful location in Casablanca just might be the central market. Between the fruits, vegetables, and dry goods packaging, the market arguably has the highest concentration of pigment in town.

Lateria, Casablana, Morocco
       
    Casablanca TramwayCasablanca TramwayThe newest transportation option in Casablanca is the sleek modern Casablanca Tramway. One remarkable fact of the system is that, building through a full built-up environment, construction started in 2010 and the service was inaugurated less than three years later (Dec 2012). Ticket prices are subsidized by the Moroccan government and the city of Casablanca, and set at a flat rate of 6 dirhams (about US$0.60 (2015))  
       
  Parc Liberte, Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco

Bloodmobile, Parc Liberte, Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco

Memorial, Parc Liberte, Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, MoroccoIn Parc Liberte is a monument to 16 May 2003, 33 civilians were killed and more than 100 people were injured when Casablanca was hit by a multiple suicide bomb attack carried out by Moroccans and claimed by some to have been linked to al-Qaeda. Twelve suicide bombers struck five locations in the city. Casablanca is more the focus of political action than any other city in Morocco: In 2000, 40,000 women attended demonstrations calling for reforms in the legal status of women. Again in 2007 suicide bomber hit the citizen, but this time only on bystander was injured. A century earlier, in June 1907, there were anti-French riots. In response, the French attacked by ship, bombarding the city from the coast, and landing troops inside the town, which caused severe damage to the town and 15,000 dead and wounded bodies.

Parked at the edge of the park was a blood donation truck (left)-- I never saw it open or move over several days. Next door and behind the park is the Tribunal de Premiere Instance, with a more neo-Romanesque style of architecture, which is uncommon in Casablanca.

Parc Liberte, Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco

Tribunal de Premiere Instance, Ville Nouvelle, Casablanca, Morocco

       
  Medina wall and gate, Casablanca, Morocco Medina wall and gate, Casablanca, Morocco Medina street scene, Casablanca, Morocco Medina street scene, Casablanca, Morocco Medina cafe, Casablanca, Morocco

The old media in Casablanca lacks the size, color, diversity or character of those in Fes and Marrakesh or even Rabat. And to a certain extent, it lacks the tourists, as well. Once you are passed the cluster of tourist shops around the gates, you will still find the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker, or whatever. Oh, and there are cafés.  The patrons are local so you figure you are looking at the health of the base economy.

Medina street scene, Casablanca, Morocco
       
  Grande Mosquée Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco

Grande Mosquée Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco

Grande Mosquée Hassan II, Casablanca, MoroccoExcept for economic activities, Casablanca is a coastal city that has largely turned it back to the sea. The notable exception is the iconic Grande Mosquée Hassan II, which is on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Andalusian-Moorish-style mosque was started in 1986 and completed in 1993. The architect is Michel Pinseau, a Frenchman. He did many projects in Morocco and for King Hassan II. This is by far his most famous project. Ten-thousand artists and craftsmen participated in building and beautifying the mosque. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable.  Most of the marble, cedar and granite used in the construction was sourced in Morocco. One-hundred-and-five thousand worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque's outside grounds. That makes it about the twelfth largest mosque in the world by capacity. Though the 210m (689 feet) high minaret is the tallest in the world. A laser on the minaret points the direction of Mecca. Another unique feature is the seabed is visible through a section of the glass floor of the building's prayer hall.

In outlining his vision the King said:

"I want to build this mosque on the water, because God's throne is on the water. Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the creator on firm soil, can contemplate God's sky and ocean."

Grande Mosquée Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco

Grande Mosquée Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco

       
    Shoreline, Casablanca, MoroccoShoreline, Casablanca, MoroccoTo the north of the mosque are the port and industrial uplands, including tank farms and petrochemical industry. Just south of the mosque there is some promenade, ragged headlands, and narrow beaches.  
       
    Cycling near the coast, CasablancaMall of Morocco, Casablanca, MoroccoLeaving town to the south along the coast, there are a few glimpses of the ocean. The uplands are mostly sealed in concrete and fenced off from the sea. None-the-less people are still out walking and jogging in the closest thing there is to a natural environment.

The most hideous use of the coastline is the Mall of Morocco, a particularly uninspiring, large, white box, that is partially surrounded by asphalt parking lots.

Mall of Morocco, Casablanca, Morocco
       

Rabat South Coast

    Marrakesh  
       
     
       
 

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