Friday, 8 June 2012


The first time you visit Casablanca you may get a shock. Humphrey Bogart may also be a bit upset that the colonial culture and lifestyle of this strategic WWII  city depicted in the famous film Casablanca are barely visible today. To the untrained eye Casa has become what only could be described as a modern industrial city,  the biggest in Morocco. Dirt, fumes, constant unplanned urban sprawl and the traffic, oh the traffic! A new tramway through the city is in construction and should help to ease the city's growing traffic problem, but in the short term it has only exacerbated it.
The descriptions of many other writers stop exactly here and leave you feeling like Casa is nothing more than a large unsightly mistake on the map of Morocco but the 'white city' hasn't lost all its charm!
Casablanca is a city of contrasts with its art deco quarter reminiscent of the French era, the Hassan II mosque (a beautiful new mosque and the only one in the world built on the ocean), the old medina, the Morocco Mall (the biggest shopping centre in North Africa), the souk, new and old restaurants, underground art and music scenes....Casablanca is like a "kinder surprise", you never know what you will come across as you spend more time in the city.
Friday is prayer day, a difficult day to catch a taxi.

On one afternoon our friend and architect Sophia Sebti took us to her favourite street Rue du Parc in the old French Art Deco quarter. As we stepped into the street the noise of the surrounding areas seems to immediately dissolve and we were faced with a row of beautifully intact buildings containing the Villa Delaporte Gallery and the Abderrahman Slaoui Fondation, the second museum of Casablanca I believe and contains the private Moroccan heritage and culture collections of Mr Slaoui. Sophia later walked us down an adjoining street to Le Doge Hotel. We climbed an amazing art deco staircase past the individually styled rooms (tributes to great legends like Hemingway, Jacques Cousteau, Lempicka) to a hidden rooftop garden with a view of most of the city. We may just have found a great location for our next photographic shoot......

Casa still has some secret treasures, sometimes you just need a bit of help unlocking them.

Abderrahman Slaoui Fondation, a museum.

Le Doge Hotel

To the top.

Sophia, Sophia and Laurent talk all things Casa

Sophia Sebti

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