Morocco // The Atlantic coast: Rabat to Essaouira //

Casablanca’s colonial architecture

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The French-built city centre and its formal, colonial buildings already seem to belong to a different and distant age. The style of the administrative buildings in particular is known as Mauresque, or sometimes as “Neo-Moorish”, essentially a French idealization and “improvement” on traditional Moroccan styles, with lots of horseshoe arches, and even the odd touch of darj w ktaf, originally an Almohad motif. Many private buildings of the early colonial period (from 1912 until the early 1920s) were heavily influenced by the flowery Art Nouveau of fin-de-siècle Europe. Following the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, a new and bolder style, named Art Deco after the Exposition, began to take hold, inspired by many sources, including traditional Moroccan design. A meander along downtown Casa’s streets, taking in the city’s Deco heritage – be sure to look upwards, since most of the finer features stop short of ground-floor level – can prove very rewarding.

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