Casablanca, Ville du XXème siécle, carrefour d'influences is part of the Tentative list of Morocco in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
20th century Casablanca shows architectural and urban planning influences from the Maghreb, Europe and America. The town was built entirely in the 20th century and used innovative architectural elements from modern architecture such as reinforced concrete and the addition of elevators. It has a number of Art Deco buildings.
Map of CasablancaLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Casablanca, 20th century city, crossroads of influences focuses on the products of urban planning and architecture in Morocco’s largest city from the period between 1920 and 1975. It is “a fusion of African culture (more precisely North African culture), European culture and American culture”. Where Rabat leans more towards the neo-Moorish styles of the early 20th century French, in Casablanca the modern movement in architecture and other avant-garde trends such as art deco and brutalism, and urban planning principles such as housing projects were applied. After the French bombarded this port city in 1907, it had almost to be rebuilt from scratch. Therefore, the proposal compares Casablanca with the planned 20th-century cities of Brasilia (Brazil) and Chandigarh (India).
I spent a late afternoon in the city center of Casablanca looking for this 20th-century heritage. No specific buildings are named in the Tentative Site description provided by Morocco. Given the scope as described above, it is unsure whether the Hassan II Mosque (of a later date, 1993) is part of it. I relied mostly on Wiki’s Architecture of Casablanca for suggestions and checked out several buildings on foot. The first one was the Central Post Office, a not-too-noticeable construction in what looks like a mix of Neo-Moorish and Art Nouveau. It lies at Mohammed V square, together with a few more buildings from the same era in a similar style such as the Bank Al-Maghrib and the Wilaya Building.
From that square, I walked southward to the Liberty Building (pictured), probably the foremost example of 20th-century architecture in Casablanca and one of the first skyscrapers in Africa (completed in 1951). It took a 1.5km hike through the city's unpleasant streets, which reminded me of the big cities in India: too crowded with people, and filthy public spaces. Along the way, I noticed some stores in Art Deco style and the peculiar Jassim Building. I approached the Liberty Building from the backside and it looked in a terrible state. Its front however has nice curves and can be photographed well from a traffic island in the roundabout in front of it.
One must have a great intellectual interest in modern architecture and urban planning to appreciate this site. Other people (including myself) will prefer the 'softer' Rabat.
Read more from Els Slots here.
I visited this tentative WHS in April 2018. In my opinion, the French-colonial design still present in Casablanca is not of OUV and would definitely not contribute anything which is missing from the WH list.
On the other hand, Casablanca is a pleasant stopover between the two WHS of El Jadida and Rabat but mostly to appreciate the impressive Hassan II Mosque (photo) by the Atlantic Coast.
I visited Morocco in December 2010, and ended my trip in Casablanca, where I stayed at Hôtel Maamoura, one of the city's many Mauresque (a blend of French-colonial design and traditional Moroccan style) buildings. The best meals in Casablanca were the fresh oysters from the stalls in the Central Market and Rick's Cafe, touristy but very well done (and where I was able to rewatch Casablanca, whose final five minutes are among the best in movie history) (www.rickscafe.ma/). I ended my trip to Morocco with a visit to Hassan II Mosque.
2013 Added to Tentative List
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