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Morocco’s largest city and capital respectively – do not have the wow-factor of Marrakech. Nor do they have the hordes of tourists. Casablanca features interesting art deco architecture, an attractive corniche and a humming nightlife. Rabat is more sedate but has a star attraction – the old Kasbah des Oudaïas, perched high above the Atlantic rollers. Read more.
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With over four million people Casablanca is Africa’s second largest city and the commercial and industrial centre of Morocco. It is a sprawling modern conurbation: the only remnants of Casablanca’s past are the 18th century sqala on the seafront and a tiny walled medina. Neglected for many years by tourists, Casablanca is attracting growing interest. It’s a city for devotees of Art Deco architecture (concentrated around the marché centrale) and for visitors who want to feel the pulse of modern, cosmopolitan Morocco.
On a holiday in Casablanca, a must-see monument is the stupendous Hassan II Mosque – the second-largest religious building in the world and one of only two mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims. It is situated at one end of Casablanca’s famous corniche, a long curving ocean front of fish restaurants, beaches and marinas. There is a wealth of hotels in Casablanca, whether you're looking for a luxury hotel in the city or a riad holiday with a bit more authenticity on a tighter budget.
Rabat has a long and chequered history. Along with its twin city Salé, it was once the haven of the Barbary pirates, the notorious ‘Sallee Rovers’ who preyed upon European merchant ships and kidnapped Cornish villagers. Nowadays Rabat is a quiet, impeccably clean city with palm-lined boulevards and none of the traffic problems that bedevil Casablanca, making it an increasingly popular destination for tourists. When considering where to take a short break in Morocco, a holiday in Rabat certainly shouldn't be counted out.
Overlooking the mouth of the Bou Regreg river is the fortress of the Kasbah des Oudaïas. You can spend a pleasant hour or two strolling down the streets of blue and white houses, admiring the 12th century fortifications and exploring the Andalusian-style garden. Next door, the Café Maure is a great place to sip a mint tea and admire the view over the Atlantic. With a wide array of accommodation options, you can choose to stay in a simple hotel in Rabat or an elaborate riad packed with Moroccan charm.