Posts Tagged ‘Art Deco’

Art Deco Casablanca: Must See Historic Buildings

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Art Deco Facade, Casablanca

Art Deco Facade, Casablanca









Prior to the establishment of the French Protectorate in Morocco (1912-1956), Dar al Bayda, as Casablanca was then known, was a modest port of a population of around 12,000. A few years into the Protectorate, this had increased 10-fold and has hardly stopped growing since. Today, Casablanca is Morocco’s bustling economic hub, home to many international companies and Africa’s biggest port and its largest shopping mall, Morocco Mall. For visitors to this metropolis, the big draw is the stunning Hassan II Mosque. However, the French left a significant architectural legacy. As you walk the streets, look up and around you beyond the crowds, the traffic and the hubbub of city life to discover Art Deco Architecture in Casablanca.

The drive to develop and expand Casablanca provided the impetus for a large urban development program at the start of the Protectorate era. This included wide city avenues, open squares and public buildings from which the ruling power could organise its realm. Back in Paris, the swirling loops of Art Nouveau were being superseded by the more angular shapes of Art Deco, which melded perfectly with Morocco’s indigenous geometry inspired by the Islamic edict against the depiction of the human form. A new architectural style was born: Mauresque blended traditional Moroccan designs and techniques of mosaic, plasterwork and wrought iron with influences from turn-of-the-century Europe, combining the straight lines of Art Deco with the sweeping curves of earlier styles.

Palais De Justice, Art Deco Casablanca

Palais De Justice, Art Deco Casablanca








Some of these buildings have been restored and are still in use. Others have suffered a less fortunate fate. Some of the best examples are around the large open expanse (now traversed by Casablanca’s modern tramway) of Place Mohammed V. Around the square, you can see the main Post Office (1918), the Palais de Justice (courthouse, 1925) and the Wilaya (administrative headquarters, built between 1927 and 1936). Pop into the Post Office to see all the original Art Deco fixtures and fittings still in tact. In the streets leading away from the square, look above the shop fronts and imagine the grandeur that these buildings represented in their heyday. The French planned this city as a showpiece, a statement of the potential of their African Empire and no effort was spared.

Post Office, Art Deco Casablanca

Post Office, Art Deco Casablanca








Several great examples of Art Deco Architecture in Casablanca are in an area to the east of the square, bordered by Boulevard Mohammed V to the north, Avenue Lalla Yacout to the south and stretching as far as Rue Ibn Batouta to the east. Admire the facades as you wander along Rue Idriss Lhrizi. Seek out the Hotel Guynemer on the parallel Rue Brahim Belloul and the Transatlantique on Rue Chaouia, or the Cinema Rialto on the corner of rue Mohammed el Qorri and rue Salah ben Bouchaib. The crumbling Hotel Lincoln, constantly the subject of a rumoured restoration program, sits opposite the Marché Central, at the intersection of of Boulevard Mohammed V and Rue Ibn Batouta; the Hotel Volubilis, on Rue Abdelkrim Diouri is thankfully the result of a successful one.

If you have longer in Casablanca and a keen interest in Art Deco architecture, you can take a taxi or the new tram to the Mers Sultan neighbourhood, to the south of downtown Casablanca. Largely shunned by today’s nouveau riche and not typically visited by the day trippers who crowd to the Hassan II mosque, this area is full of treasures ready for discovery. Some of the apartment blocks and villas echo the grandeur of Marseilles or Miami Beach. Here you will find the playground of the former French colonialists – the bars, cafes and cinemas, but their wealthy clientele are long gone. Hunt down the Café Champs Elyssée, built in the shape of a cruise liner; the Cinema Lynx and the Bar Atomic.

For a luxury Art Deco have your Morocco travel agent book you into Le Doge Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel located in a historic villa just 10 minutes from the corniche and 5 minutes from La Squala historic fortifications.

Le Doge Hotel & Spa Casablanca

Le Doge Hotel & Spa Casablanca









The Moroccan government is pouring money into the regeneration of Casablanca and one can only hope that some of these Art Deco buildings can be rescued and restored. Casablanca is a city of extremes – the wealthiest business moguls reside in new villa developments along the coast, while the poorest rural migrants scrape a living around its large shanty towns. It seems that modern Casablanca never stops moving. However, if you look carefully, slow your pace and look up above the grimy ground floors and beyond the botched renovations, you will discover the city’s former glory of Art Deco Architecture: the brass, the parquet floors and the chandeliers just need a spit and a polish to shine once again.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Casablanca Art Deco Tours

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Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Vacation in Sidi Ifni On the Shores of the Atlantic, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Sidi Ifni, Seacoast View

Sidi Ifni is some two hour’s drive from Agadir and is unique because of its much admired Spanish Art Deco buildings built when it was a Spanish enclave from 1934-1969. A vacation in Morocco’s Sidi Ifni on the shores of the Atlantic of Agadir is a great way to pass the summer months. The cliff top views of the sea at Sidi Ifni and the beach are impressive. There are two buildings built like ships with portholes near the steps down to the beach and there is a striking lighthouse overlooking the sea. A former church now the law courts and a former Spanish consulate with its windows bricked up lie around the Place Hassan II, formerly Plaza de Espana along with the governor’s house which is now a royal palace.

A number of the old Spanish buildings have undergone some renovation and have been freshly painted in white and blue. In July and August a sea mist sometimes shrouds the sea and the cliff top caused by the colder sea hitting the sun baked shore.


Sidi Ifni, Art Deco Architecture

There are long avenues and Spanish streets still with their original street names like Calle Gomara and Calle Ceuta as they were when the Spanish population left the town in 1969. Just off the beach is the former cable car rigged up to ferry supplies up the cliff to the town. The old cable car can still be seen and was an ingenious way to deliver supplies to the town from Tenerife. There is also a disused airfield which now hosts a lively souk with bric a brac displays of old antiques reminiscent of such seaside haunts as Brighton in the UK. There are also displays of carpets, kelims, Berber jewelry and other handicrafts along with many vegetable sellers . Sidi Ifni is also a market town and the Berber Ait Baamrane tribe are the inhabitants of the surrounding agricultural region. The streets of the Moroccan built part of the town lies under a large hill and are lined with pavement sellers and cafes and there is relaxed atmosphere combining a rural market day on Sunday with the town’s attraction as a seaside resort . There is also a covered souk selling Moroccan dresses and djellabahs as well as other handicrafts and toys. Sidi Ifni has an important fishing industry with a special fishing port and there are many different types of fish for sale in the souk’s municipal fish market.

Sidi Ifni Beach

In the late 1950’s the Moroccan Liberation Army which fought in small guerilla bands waged a determined war against the Spanish Foreign Legion winning back Laayoune and the south and finally most of the Sidi Ifni region. The Sidi Ifni war was called the forgotten war but it involved the Baamrane tribe and the region in sustained fighting. On my trip to Sidi Ifni via Tiznit from Marrakech I travelled with a Moroccan friend and his family. We stayed at my friend’s uncle’s farm in the Ait Baamrane countryside in a valley surrounded by mountains. Beside the farm was a well constructed well which had been left by the French who had stationed a battalion there whilst pacifying the area. The rest of the camp had been erased. My friend told me that his father fought with the Moroccan Liberation Army from 1955-7. He recounted how a Spanish patrol forced their way into his father’s house looking for him but he was not there. His mother and the two older children, then very small were frightened but unharmed. His father eventually joined the Moroccan Army and ended up as a senior sergeant at Army headquarters in Marrakech. He retired and died earlier this year, I had known him for over 20 years. His name was Jama Ait Bausakif. With the years of fighting and the suffering and losses involved in what is still living memory, it is not surprising that Moroccans are reluctant to remeber their colonial past and refurbish the Spanish Art Deco buildings. In fact a number of buildings have been renovated but more remains to be done and it is expensive.

Travelers do like the Art Deco buildings and the town’s administration understand this. Hopefully they can be seen as a delightful architectural experiment, part of Morocco’s heritage from a bygone era. When the French left in 1956 the writing was on the wall for the Spanish inhabitants of Sidi Ifni and they left in 1969 following international pressure from the UN. Sidi Ifni became a sad ghost town. Now it is an enchanting seaside resort and local market town which all can enjoy. The Hotel Suerte Loca and the Hotel Bellevue are recommended and the restaurant Café Nomad. There are even two bars on the beach which is also good for surfing. Ten miles north of Sidi Ifni is the much larger Legzira beach at Sidi Ouarzik and the nearby small town of Mirleft between Tiznit and Sidi Ifni has several fine beaches for surfing and several low cost hotels. There is even an English run bed and breakfast, Sally’s Bn’B and a pub, the Sunset cafe just off the main street.

Where to Stay in Sidi Ifni:

Legzira Beach Club
Phone: +212.670.522.800

Logis La Marine
Avenue Moulay Abdellah 1,
Sidi Ifni, Maroc
+212 6 41 76 60 96

Where to Eat in Sidi Ifni:

Café Restaurant Nomad
Located in the heart of “art deco” of the Spanish colonial city area of Sidi Ifni. Local Moroccan cuisine and seafood.  Beautiful shrimp, sole and  chicken bastilla. Good olive tapenade. Reservations Recommended
Address: ‪5 Avenue Moulay Youseff, Sidi

La Paella de la Playa
An intimate restaurant with homemade cuisine of local falvor. Excellent paella, pulpo- octopus, pasta and the best pesto in the region. Divine fresh fruit juices and  service of the heart describe this restful and well appointed restaurant in Sidi Infni..
Address: ‪Playa de Sidi ifni | ‪Entrada Camping El Barco, Sidi Ifni
Phone: +212 648346594

Café Restaurant Mar Pequena
A vegetarian family friendly restaurant. Serves up good kefta tajine and wonderful fruit juices. Female friendly for those traveling solo.
Address: 20, Av. Elmowahidine, Sidi Ifni,

For more information about Sidi Ifni, Agadir and Morocco’s Seaside Communities 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

La Mamounia Hotel, a Marrakech Institution of Luxury & Flair, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Friday, August 12th, 2011

La Mamounia Hotel, Arched Doorway to Suite

La Mamounia is a legendary property in Marrarkech, Morocco that radiates with class, tradition and beauty. It is said that stepping into Le Mamounia is akin to a setting of 1001 Arabian Nights. La Mamounia Hotel is a Marrakech institution of Luxury and Flair. Originally the Marrakech palace of a crown prince of Morocco it was converted by the French administration into a hotel in 1923. Named for its 200-year old gardens, which were given as an 18th century wedding gift to Prince Moulay Mamoun by his father, the gardens cover nearly 20 acres and display an incredible variety of flowers and trees.

La Mamounia Hotel, Sculpture

La Mamounia was designed in 1922 by the architects Prost and Marchisio. They combined traditional Moroccan designs with the popular Art Deco look of the 1920’s. Winston Churchill called it, “the most lovely spot in the whole world.” He spent many winters at La Mamounia painting the Atlas Mountains and surrounding countryside.

It earned its fame from the day it opened and is considered one of Morocco’s most famous hotels. Situated on the edge of the walls of the old city of Marrakech La Mamounia is where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the movie “The Birds.” Churchill painted from his balcony and declared it “loveliest spot on earth.” Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt came to La Mamounia when they met for the Casablanca Conference in 1943, and were said to have grappled with their responsibilities from the roof of the hotel while gazing out at the snow-covered mountains and terra cotta walls of the old city. The suite where Churchill often stayed was renamed in his honor. Other politicians who have enjoyed stays at the hotel include Ronnie and Nancy Reagan, Charles de Gaulle, and Nelson Mandela.

La Mamounia Hotel, View of Salon de The (Tea Room)

During the 1900’s, an era known for early travel in Morocco La Mamounia garnered attention for not just being a hotel but a way of life, where a small exclusive community of ex-pats, colonial rulers and adventurers would sip Scotch in the hotel’s gardens.

The most recent renovation by French Designer Jacques Garcia began in 2006 and took 3 years to complete. Garcia married his fondness for detail using velvet upholstery in jewel-like hues, dramatic color and romantic low lighting to compliment the Moroccan sun along with black and white tiled courtyard. The results are a flawless redesigned hotel that has kept the flavor, charm and architecture of the historical Mamounia with addition of a Moroccan modern flavor.

La Mamounia Hotel, Pool

La Mamounia offers top end services from four elegant restaurants with top cuisine to stunning lounges, a luxury spa, heated pool and on site shopping options of high end goods.

Restaurants La Mamounia
Le Morocain – serving Moroccan local cuisine
Le Francais –  French cuisine, Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato
Don Alfonso’s L’Italien – Italian cuisine
Le Pavillion – International cuisine

Bars & Lounges
Le Bar Pavilion de la Piscine – designed in tribute to the Menara basin
Le Bar Churchill –  named after its most famous guest, Winston Churchill
Le Bar Italien – beautiful outdoor terrace and international wine list
Le Bar Marocain – rooftop lounge

Outdoor ozone heated swimming pool set amongst the Mamounia’s lovely gardens
Two clay tennis courts
A fitness pavillion
Large spa offering a wide range of treatments
Three championship golf courses
Riding stables – outside the property

Accommodation at La Mamounia:

The Riads
Three Riads set amongst the heart of La Mamounia’s wonderful gardens, each having 700 sq. meters of space to provide 3 bedrooms with excellent bathrooms, a large dining room and private pool on a terrace.

Superior suites
Seven Signature suites each individually themed with original and unique Moroccan-style décor – The Churchill, The Majorelle, Koutoubia, Baldaquin, Marquetrie and The Al Mamoun.

The Suites (64 in total) have views over the elaborate gardens, the Atlas Mountains or the Koutoubia mosque. There is a large lounge, and king size beds in the bedrooms. An executive suite offers a terrace and bathroom with separate shower and bath.

The Moroccan suites have been decorated by local artisans. Four Prestige suites on the middle floors look over the gardens, their 100 sq. meters include 2 living rooms with dining and seating areas and a walk-in wardrobe.

13 Classic Rooms
Comfortable and located between ground and first floor, looking over the city and gardens. 19 Superior rooms on the second to fourth floors display vibrant colors of Moroccan styling and look over the Hivernage. Deluxe rooms (104) are decorated with wood, leather, stucco and moucharabieh and have views of the Koutobia, park or the Atlas Mountains.

For more information about La Mamounia or a Marrakech Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best ofMarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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