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STOPOVER


CASABLANCA


The most expensive movie poster ever sold went for nearly half a million dollars. It was painted by a noted Italian artist, and is said to be the last of its provenance to exist. But perhaps the buyer wanted the poster in his collection not only because of the rarity and quality of it, but because of the film it advertised: Casablanca. Seventy-five years after its release, the film is still sweeping people off its feet – just as Humphrey Bogart did Ingmar Bergman all those years ago.


From a practical standpoint, the movie Casablanca has little to do with its namesake Moroccan city. For most travelers to the region, Casablanca is just a stepping stone to other cities like Fez or Marrakech. But to dismiss the city entirely would be a mistake. Casablanca is the face of modern Morocco, as well as a storyteller of its past.


CASA PAST Casa, as it is commonly called, is home to nearly four million people. The city is relatively new, historically speaking – about 150 years old. The architecture, culture, and people are heavily influenced by its Spanish, Portuguese, and French forebears. Most people speak French here. And with 200 days of sunshine and a relatively mild climate year-round, it’s still quite popular with European travelers.


Start your history lesson at the stunning Hassan II mosque. It is the third largest mosque after Mecca and Medina, and the largest in Africa, with room for 25,000 worshippers inside and 80,000 outside. Designed by a French architect, the mosque took six years and $750 million to build. According to a verse in the Quran, God’s throne was built on water, so the mosque is


F ALCONER ISSUE 48


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