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Westerners who visit Casablanca for romantic reasons associated with the classic film are likely to be sorely disappointed by this brash, modern metropolis. First impressions of "Casa" are often about unkempt buildings, traffic jams and noise pollution, rather than moonlit nights and starry eyes. The juxtaposition between Casa's romantic image and its jarring reality is one of many contrasts that define Morocco's largest city and economic center. From religious monuments to beach cafés, from traditional culture to modern nightlife, Casablanca is a jumble of curiosities and contradictions that somehow fit together into one surprising ...

Westerners who visit Casablanca for romantic reasons associated with the classic film are likely to be sorely disappointed by this brash, modern metropolis. First impressions of "Casa" are often about unkempt buildings, traffic jams and noise pollution, rather than moonlit nights and starry eyes. The juxtaposition between Casa's romantic image and its jarring reality is one of many contrasts that define Morocco's largest city and economic center. From religious monuments to beach cafés, from traditional culture to modern nightlife, Casablanca is a jumble of curiosities and contradictions that somehow fit together into one surprising package. Meanwhile, Rabat stands by in quiet contrast, its atmosphere more relaxed than any other city in Morocco. The great walls of Rabat enclose a largely modern city with wide boulevards and bureaucratic-looking buildings. But several quarters remain to remind you of Rabat's rich past, including the ancient Kasbah des Oudaias and white-washed Salé, home to the colorful corsairs.

Mara Vorhees
About the Expert

Mara Vorhees has written or contributed to many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including Brazil and Morocco.

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Mara Vorhees for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Rabat is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg. Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and is also located in the western part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean and is 86 km from Rabat.
  • Language: Arabic, Berber Dialects, French
  • Currency: Moroccan Dirham
  • Research: Rabat | Casablanca | Casablanca | Rabat
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year-round; every summer the International Festival of Rabat offers two weeks of music and film.