Casablanca
  Casablanca
Exploring

Visiting the Hassan II Mosque (www.mosqueehassan2.com) while in Casablanca is an absolute must. Open to non-Muslims, it is the world's largest religious monument after Mecca. An architectural masterpiece composed of marble, granite, onyx and painted cedar, it stands right on the ocean and a laser atop its 200m minaret shows the way to Mecca. Designed by architect Michel Pinseau, it can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers inside and 80,000 more on its esplanade.

The New Medina, or Habbous District ("district of holy men"), is a picturesque quarter of small squares, bazaars, stone archways, bakeries and cafes. Built in 1930 by French architects in an attempt to solve a housing crisis, this part of the city blends traditional Arabian architecture and modern urban planning. Its flower-lined streets lead to the copper souk, in the Mahkama du Pacha, former Islamic law courts whose ornamentation is a testament to ancestral know-how, and, on the periphery of the Habbous district, the Royal Palace, a magnificent structure that features a secret garden surrounded by arcades.

The Old Medina stands in stark contrast to the more modern areas of the city. The oldest part of Casablanca, it is a maze of winding alleys, some of which hearken back to a centuries-old way of life. Facing the port, north of the Medina, are ancient 18th-century fortifications. Along the walls, the Tahar El-Alaoui boulevard market offers a mixed bag of stalls operated by barbers, public writers, jewellers and countless other merchants. Behind the sqala (fortress), you can relax in the shade of a banyan tree, near the tomb of a marabout, while marvelling at the panoramic ocean view at the small Sidi Bou Smara square. Though bustling during the day, the district should be avoided come nightfall.

The Museum of Moroccan Judaism (81 Rue Chasseur Jules Gros, Oasis, tel. 022-99-49-40) is located right on the outskirts of the city, and can be reached in only 15min by taxi. Casablanca's only museum, it features an exceptional collection of photographs, documents, objects and clothing that shed light on the life, history and traditions of Moroccan Jews.

Built on a hill overlooking the city, Anfa is a residential district whose flowered villas of all styles illustrate the history of architecture from the 1930s to modern times. It was in one such posh villa that Roosevelt and Churchill held the Casablanca Conference in 1943.