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Casablanca

Casablanca, thanks to Hollywood, conjures feelings of romance, intrigue and cosmopolitan style. Though this could very easily be a complete fabrication, travelers will find it to be true, if not a hundred per cent in the ways they expect.

Casablanca means 'white house' in Portuguese, a name given to the city in 1515. Governed in turns by the Berbers, the Portuguese and the French, Casablanca has been independent since 1956 and is now part of King Mohammed IV's sultanate. The city's most important landmark is the King Hassan II Mosque. It's the third-biggest mosque in the world, boasts a soaring minaret and is open to people of all faiths, making it unique in Morocco. While the mosque is relatively new, Casablanca also has a medina (old city) worth exploring. Compact and walled-in, the medina can easily be seen in a couple of hours.

Historical sites aside, Casablanca is best known for its cosmopolitan nightlife. The excitement begins in hotel bars in the city center and spills over into nightclubs and pubs of Maarif and Gironde districts. Casablanca also has the best restaurants in Morocco, especially when it comes to European fare. Many of these serve as quieter places to enjoy a drink with friends after hours.

Casablanca is an important travel hub, with many tourists spending at least one night here simply for logistical reasons. Many hotels in Casablanca are close to Mohamed V Airport, which is Morocco's most important gateway. Flights arrive mainly from North America, Europe and a host of African cities. Arriving by train is possible from other cities in Morocco, especially Fez and Rabat.

Hotels near Casablanca are notorious for filling up, and booking early goes a long way toward securing the best rooms in the best locations. Due to the city's dramatically changing climate, hotels in Casablanca with air-conditioning are preferable for maximum comfort.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Casablanca, click on the interactive Casablanca map on the left-hand side of the page.