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How can one possibly describe the Hassan II Mosque? From the air, it dominates the city. Built on the edge of the ocean, it rises like some kind of divine ship. But if its divinity comes from heaven, its greatness and its beauty are the work of men who gave it all the love, art and technology within their power.

The prayer hall can accommodate 25 000 of the faithful, and the esplanade 80000 more. The traditional Moroccan architecture here reaches its zenith with the use of ultra-sophisticated technology. 3 300 craftsmen from all over the Kingdom worked together to build this monument on pile foundations covering 2 hectares, erect the worlds tallest minaret (200 metres), install the retractable roof which, in three minutes, can transform the prayer hall into a magnificent patio, sculpt 10 000 square metres of decorations, 67 000 square metres of plaster, 53 000 square metres of wood... The Great Hassan II Mosque is quite simply dazzling.

In Casablanca, even the souks have benefited from the march of progress. And how magnificently! Built at the beginning of the century, the Habbous district seems as if it has been throbbing with activity since the dawn of time. Punctuated by attractive little shaded squares, narrow streets lined with arcades lead from one souk to another. Here, the coppersmiths shape teapots, cauldrons, chandeliers, vases, lanterns and trays... These are the bazaars bursting with all kinds of merchandise in all imaginable colours... on one side there is the curious and fragrant olive souk... on the other the pastry shops piled high with appetising doughnuts, cornes de gazelles and date cakes... Rows of mechanical sewing machines being worked by men in djellabas... strange but wonderful antique shops selling fascinating and beautiful objets dart.

In this quarter stands the Mahkama du Pacha, the sumptuous edifice which houses both the court of justice and reception rooms for state occasions. And, a little further on, the Notre Dame de Lourdes church. In comparison, the old medina appears like an extravagant labyrinth which has fortunately been contained within the ramparts. But if, during the day, Casablanca is alive with dynamism, during the evening you can drink in the sea air on the famous corniche,.the area preferred by those looking for the night life, with its beaches and swimming pools, its fashionable bars, restaurants and hotels. A dynamic metropolis, Casablanca achieves its power by drawing on its rich cultural heritage and adapting it to modern business needs. It encourages forums and debates and possesses all the infrastructure of a major international capital. Congresses and conventions bring together scientists, industrialists and financiers from all over the world. Seminars and round tables are held in the opulent meeting rooms of its luxury hotels. Political summits take place there. Which is, in fact, quite a tradition. In 1943, His Late Majesty, Mohamed V, accompanied by His Majesty Hassan II, then a young prince, welcomed the three great leaders of thefree world; Roosevelt and de Gaulle, conference.

Around the Casablanca region

The inhabitants of Casablanca only have to travel a few kilometers to enjoy a wide variety of activities. Dont be afraid to follow suit : relax by the sea, go for walks in the beautiful forests or steep yourself in history as you visit the ancient fortified cities...

28 km to the north stretch sandy beaches, with a casino, luxury hotels, a racecourse, a yacht-club and an 1 8 hole golf course beside the sea. This is Mohammedia, the Casablancans favorite resort which also boasts one of the countrys most active ports- possessing a history going back to the XIVth century when it was visited by ships from Pisa, Genoa, Venice and Portugal.

A little further to the east, Ben Slimane is the place to go if you are interested in more rural pursuits. Hiking or hunting in the magnificent Ziaidas cork-oak forest or perhaps a round of golf on the endearing nine hole course with its lake populated by splendid carp and flocks of wild duck.

On the coast, 100 kilometers to the south, discover the old fortified cities, former Portuguese trading posts.

Azemmour is surrounded by ochre ramparts, from which projects a small platform overlooking the reddish waters of the Oum er-Rbia estuary, famous for its delicious alosa, the local culinary specialty. The medina is superb with its white, square houses, livened up by bougainvilla, rising on terraces among the olive and pomegranate trees.

Considered as offering the best shelter on the entire Atlantic coast, El Jadida was the scene of bitter fighting with the Portuguese, who finally lost it in 1769. A walk around the ramparts gives splendid views over the surrounding country, while from each of the five bastions you can see over the port, the moat and the clustered houses... You must not miss the huge 1100 square meter underground reservoir in which the water and the light combine to throw the amazing gothic architecture into sharp relief; a setting often used by film-makers, in particular Orson Welles for his Othello.

In the plain, to the south, stretch the renowned Boulaouane vineyards which produce the celebrated rose wine. Dont be surprised if you catch sight of a falcon flying overhead, for Boulaouane is not only internationally famous for its wine; it is also one of the greatest centers of falconry. The falconry itself is situated in a spectacular kasbah built in 1710 by Moulay Ismail consisting of a rectangular walled area with 7 bastions.