The origins of Casablanca can be traced to the medieval town of Anfa, which is now one of the city’s suburbs.
Anfa became the capital of a Berber principality in the aftermath of the Arab invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries.
The Berbers embraced Islam but quickly succumbed to heretical doctrines, setting up their own prophet and a Qur’an in Berber language.
The principality was known as Berghouata, and its tribal inhabitants joined a Kharijite rebellion against the Arab governor of Tangier.
In the 11th century the Almoravids waged holy war against these heretics who were finally defeated by the Almohad Sultan Abdul Mou’min.
The town came under the influence of the Merinids during the 13th century, but eventually became independent as the dynasty weakened. The Portuguese destroyed the town in 1468 in reprisal for piracy.
Portugal sent a fleet of 50 vessels and 10,000 soldiers to occupy the town, which was sacked and then abandoned. But piracy soon revived and the Portuguese returned in 1515 and destroyed the town once again.
In 1575 the town was rebuilt, fortified and renamed Casa Branca by the Portuguese in an attempt to establish control over the area.
However, the Portuguese rulers fell under constant attack by surrounding Muslim tribes and were finally forced to abandon the town following a terrible earthquake in 1755.
Under the reign of Sidi Mohamed ben Abdallah (1757-1790) the town was rebuilt with a mosque, medrassa, hammam and a fort and renamed Dar Al Beida (The White House), which the Spanish eventually translated as Casablanca.
Home to Morocco’s primary international airport, Casablanca is the main gateway into the country for many visitors, and often their first taste of the country.
This city is an industry and business powerhouse, and compared to the exotic charms of Marrakesh and Fes it can’t compete.
There is a European touch to much of its architecture, and the city has a modern swagger that is unseen in other parts of the country.
On the shoreline, just beyond the northern tip of Casablanca’s Medina (Old City), the Hassan II mosque dominates the entire city. Finished in 1993, it is the second largest mosque in the world, covering 2 ha in size with the world’s tallest minaret (200 m high).
Although Casablanca’s tourist sights and attractions may not be as obvious as those elsewhere, you will find some gems if you dig a little deeper.
In town I found an old fashioned button shop, fantastic for making button brooches on board.
Here we are having a sort out back on ship.
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