Casablanca is a name loaded with cultural undertones. It may be a relatively new city – one that’s not found on maps from the 1800s or before – but it’s a destination that has beguiled travellers for a century. Beyond that, it’s the name of the most famous movie ever made, a Hollywood classic that is today sometimes guilty of being famous for being famous.
It all began because the French wanted to prove their colonial might to the world, and where better to do it than on the steps of Europe – rather than in some fever-ridden West African colony?
In Casablanca, the Gallic architects could begin afresh, creating a dazzling white city – the White House – from with a blank canvas alongside the Atlantic. Casa was supposedly the first city in the world designed by aeroplane, giving a sleekness to the lines. The city’s grandeur was astonishing, as though Casablanca was less of a humble colonial outpost, and more of a statement in French Imperial might.
In the last decade that I have spent here, I have come to appreciate the endless interwoven layers. I spend my time in the junk-yards buying old roll-top baths and 1920s sinks, or in the Christian cemetery that overlooks the seafront, or in the glorious old Art Deco area of Mers Sultan.
I love the café life and the scent of adventure on the ocean breeze, and the bustle of life within the medina walls. And, I adore the way that Casablanca is a mélange of the entire Kingdom, and the way that everyone who lives here has a story to tell.
Through my writing, I hope that some of my passion for Casa rubs off on others, and that visitors and locals alike will see that there’s magic in abundance in this town.
Like a complex pattern found in nature, Casablanca takes time to appreciate and understand. Indeed, I sometimes feel that the longer you spend here, the more you realize that you know nothing at all.