Modern City Life, Casablanca
I'm usually an old building fan, so in the Arab World, I generally get my kicks in the medinas where the oldest and most interesting quarters are found, and hardly visit the new modern parts of town. However, in Casablanca, the modern city is a major attraction for anyone with an interest in Art Deco or Mauresque architecture. Some of the buildings are well kept and visually stunning, but most are in danger of slowly crumbling away. Keep looking up, as Casablanca at street level is just like any other busy city really...
There aren't really any main sights, but a few buildings are worth seeking out. The first is the former Hotel Lincoln, a huge grand building on the main avenue, although today it is hard to get a good look at it as the building has half fallen in on itself, and is fenced off, awaiting either demolition or a complete facelift. The construction of a metro line outside doesn't help you get close either.
Close by is a cute little cinema, the art deco Cinema Rialto which has seen a bit more love than the Hotel Lincoln, newly restored and painted white and red. A few blocks away is a pedestrian shopping street with lots of outdoor cafes, the rue Moulay Abdallah, and nearly every building has a beautiful facade, as do those in the surrounding blocks.
Beautiful unloved buildings are concentrated in the city centre, but all over the city you'll find a decaying art deco apartment block wedged in between ugly concrete structures...taking a walk out to Quartier Habbous is a good way to find these if you're interested.
Among the most visible aspects of Casablanca downtown/center are the wide boulevards flanked by white, usually tall buildings. The streets run out in all directions from the Place des Nations Unies (United Nations Square, former Place Mohammed V; built at the turn of the century and redesigned in the 1950s).
This place is the central point of downtown Casablanca, and also the point where the modern town meets the medina.
The main streets of Casablanca start here: Av. des Forces Armees Royales (FAR), Av. Moulay Hassan I, Av. Hassan II and Blvd. Mohammed V.
My walk around Casablanca demonstrated me clearly that Casablanca was the place that the French colonial authorities gave most attention. And money. The old colonial centre of Casablanca was large, impressive and refreshingly beautiful. The buildings were and still are of a French version of Arabo-Andalucian architecture, white with soft lines, and often plenty of details.
The area I explored was south of Avenue des Forces Armees Royales, but of special interest was the Place des Nations Unies, which had the largest structures. Further east and south buildings were less impressive, but equally interesting.
The center of Casablanca is impressive in Moroccan way. It is brand modern, with huge, wide, lively boulevards and high, white, well-kept buildings. And it is clean and busy.
But as soon as you step out of the downtown/center of town, dark clouds cover the realities of people here. Extreme poverty and prostitution only to be matched by Tangier was what I found without even looking for it. In my opinion no other place in Moroco displayed bigger differences between the haves and the have-nots.
Morrocco is one of the wort and most dangerous driving countries. In the motorway or highway you can find a donkey sitting down in the middle of the road, or a motorcycle like this one with a man carrying a stairs or so may things that you cannot see the man nor the motorcycle
Djemaa el Fna, as that square is called, is the main attraction in Marrakech, and what goes on there probably fits most people's image of Morocco. The plaza is the main gathering point for locals and tourists alike, and we found ourselves drawn to it repeatedly. Different things go on there during different times of the day. Sometimes there are veiled women using syringes to pipe henna designs onto the hands and feet of waiting tourists, other times there are snake charmers blowing exotic tunes from flutes, apparently mesmerizing nearby cobras. There are all types of herbal medicine practitioners, and there are a couple of guys there who will (supposedly) pull a nagging tooth for you. There's usually someone testifying about the power of some particular product, and there are clumps of people listening as two or more of them argue a topic, "Point/Counterpoint"-style. At night, the fire eaters, storytellers, and musicians come out. There are food vendors selling everything from fresh steamed escargot to goat's brains to couscous to lamb kebobs. It's all cooked fresh, right there, and everything we ate was quite delicious (sorry, can't give you a report on those goat's brains). The perimeter of the whole circus is lined with carts from which men hawk fresh-squeezed orange juice, and they compete furiously for your business. Moroccan citrus fruit is absolutely fabulous, much better than anything I've ever had from Florida. Minute Maid will never gain a foothold here, when a glass of the fresh-squeezed stuff can be had for 25 cents.
Know what it is? It's a Catholic church in modern style - Notre Dame. In my opinion the construction is scaring.
Inside it is decorated with mosaics. But it still not built up to the end - the ceiling and the walls at the entrance are not decorated.
Ads advertising new housing complex with all modern facilities like swimming pools, tennis courts, gym..... outside the city
There is an avenue with hotels and restaurants. There is a neighbourhood next to the Belgium Embassy, very nice, with nice italian restaurants and apartments.
This is the Dessert Berebere Palm.
It is advertised in many places in the country. And women dress with jewellery with this sign.