Although most people have seen the movie Casablanca and can even be able to quote a few lines, many tourists do not know too much about the real city. In fact, the movie wasn’t even filmed in
Casablanca but rather in a studio in Hollywood. Here below are 10 things you didn’t know about the real Casablanca.
1. It is the largest city in Morocco
Casablanca is not only the largest city in Morocco but is also the largest city in the entire Maghreb. It has about 3.36 million inhabitants in an area of only 386 square kilometers, making it denser than all major cities in the United States except New York.
2. You should know that there weren’t many people in the 20th century…
Although it’s so big nowadays, as said before, at the beginning of the last century, there were very few people living there, only 20,000 people. After the French occupation in the early 1900s, Casablanca quickly grew as a port, and then expanded at an even faster rate after Moroccan independence.
3. It had the world’s tallest minaret…
Built-in 1993, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca had the highest minaret in Africa with a height of 210 m. It had been exceeded by the Djamaa el Djazair in Algiers, Algeria. However, the mosque is still the tallest in Morocco and is the 10th largest in the world. It has the capacity to accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers at a time.
4. There’s actually a cafe called “Rick’s Café”
You can find the famous “Rick’s Café” from the well-known movie Casablanca in town, but it’s not the real coffee shop from the movie. Opened in 2004, this restaurant is made to recreate the bar and is located in an old house. Even if it’s quite “touristy”, it’s definitely worth visiting and say that you’ve been there.
5. It was once a hideout for pirates
Like many cities on the coast of Morocco, Casablanca was once a hideout for pirates. The pirates used it as a base until it was attacked and occupied by Portugal in 1468.
6. It was destroyed by an earthquake…
You may not have heard of the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 that destroyed much of Casablanca. Lisbon had the worst damage as it was a large city at the time, but Casablanca and the Moroccan coast suffered enormously as well. After less than an hour of the earthquake (estimated at 8.5-9.0) that shook the city, a tsunami pounded the coast.
7. There was once a U.S. Air Force base
You might be surprised to know that the Mohammed V international airport was once a United States airbase. The base has operated from 1951 to 1963 until the United States agreed to leave after the American intervention in the Lebanon conflict in 1958.
8. It was founded in the 7th century BC.
The area now known as Casablanca was ruled by the Berbers around the 7th century BC and was called Anfa at the time. It was then controlled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Almoravids, Merinids, Portuguese and others.
9. Casablanca, nothing like the movie
As mentioned before, the movie Casablanca wasn’t even filmed in the city in question, but there are some other glaring inaccuracies in the film. Among them the representation of the population of Casablanca. Although there were many foreigners living in the city at the time because of the war and colonization, there were many more Arabs living there than the film portrayed.
10. It has the best economy in Morocco
While cities such as Fez and Marrakech attract tourists by thousands and seem more “exotic”, Casablanca does most of the work. The city accounts for one-third of the economy of the entire country and more than 50% of its industrial workforce. It also has one of the highest GDPs in Africa. Not bad for a city that had no more than 20,000 inhabitants in 1900.😉