Casablanca. It’s a city that, despite the traffic, is really starting to grow on me.
You see back in November when my sister flew in from Toronto, I went to Casablanca to pick her up from the airport. I had avoided the city for five years after an unfortunate event that changed my life for a couple of years. But having wandered around the absolutely gorgeous Hassan II mosque and hung out in some galleries, it started to grow on me.
Fast forward a few months and I returned for Habibi Funk concert organized by Jazzablanca and spent the day exploring more galleries, meeting with prospective clients and just getting a general feel for the city.
So when we learned that the Journées du patrimoine were taking place from 11 to 14 May 2017, we knew we had to return. I had also been impressed by the art-deco architecture since I first arrived in Morocco seven years ago and growing street-art scene appeals to me. So seeing the schedule this week, our travel plans were confirmed.
Casamemoire, an organization dedicated to preserving 20th century architecture in Morocco, has organized four routes lead by hundreds of volunteers on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May including:
Hay Mohammadi: Visits include a stop at the old slaughterhouses (abattoirs) of Casablanca, Semiramis, Saint Marguerite Church and more. The nearby Cité Costumer and Vincent Timsit workshops will also be open to the public. An insider advised me that this is a must-do tour as it’s an area one wouldn’t typically visit.
City Centre: Visits to the Wilaya, La Tribunal, La Poste and Banque al Maghreb, Hotel Lincoln, Cinema Rialto, Le Glaoui and more!
Ancienne Médina: Visits include Bastion de la Sqala, Spanish church, Ettedgui Synagogue and the former Lyautey residence.
Habous: La Makhama du Pacha and Musée Dar al Ala, Hamam Chiki, olive market, Moulay Youssef Mosque. My insider sources say this is always a favourite tour with her travel guests.
Hands-on cultural experiences
But beyond the site visits, the organizers have planned a jam-packed schedule of super cool events including classic Arabic workshops (Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. at La Coupole), a children’s workshop in Moroccan patisserie on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Maison Bennis, and a weaving workshop on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for adults.
Fondation Abderrahman Slaoui will be open throughout the weekend with guided visits of the temporary exhibits by MazenKerbaj and Hatem Imam and David Ruffel. An English visit is organized for Saturday 13 May at 2:30 p.m.
The Cité Costumer and Vincent Timsit workshops will also be open to the public in the Hay Mohamedi region while in the Ancien Medina, visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the Ettedgui Synagogue. The Villa Sami Suissa, current home of cafe Chez Paul, will also be open for guided visits.
Music to my ears!
Rendez-vous Thursday 11 May at 8 p.m. for a concert with Fassi musician Nabila Maan at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. On Friday at 8 p.m. Gnaoua Maâlem Hassan Boussou at the same venue. Then on Saturday evening, don’t miss Mehdi Nasouli in concert at the same venue at 8 p.m. Or for a dose of Andalusian music, head to Maison Dar Al Ala (the Andalusian music museum) for a concert kicking off at 8 p.m.
Not just about the architecture
Stop by the Fondation Abderrahman Slaoui for the Noise on paper & The Life and Work of Walter Ego exhibition while over at the Casablanca 24/24 exhibition will be on display at the Couple in the Parc de la Ligue Arabe. The Casaoui exhibition is on display at the former Spanish church in the building currently known as the Maison de la culture de la medina.
For more information about the event, workshops, conferences (including one about Andalusian music and another about the importance of heritage conservation) follow the Journées du Patrimoine du Casablanca Facebook page. If, like me, you are bit lost in Casablanca, the Huffington Post has published a super helpful map pin-pointing various venues.
MANDY SINCLAIR IS THE FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SAY SOMETHING COMMUNICATION, A PR AGENCY IN MARRAKECH SPECIALISING IN TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE. SHE ARRIVED IN MARRAKECH MOROCCO IN 2011 FOR FIVE MONTHS AND JUST HASN’T BEEN ABLE TO LEAVE!