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Casablanca, Moraco

The very mention of Casablanca stirs memories of time gone by and the larger-than-life romance of Bogart and Bergman. Bordered by the omnipresent Atlas Mountains and the warm waters of the Atlantic, this area known as "Casa" is a desert oasis and Africa's second largest city. While in Casablanca, view Moorish architecture in its administrative center, Mohammed V Square, wander the city's Habous Quarter for merchant's goods, and visit the ancient quarter to see the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world.

From here, a picturesque drive across the Chaouia and Ben Guerir plains of the Sahara lead you to the palm-surrounded oasis of fabled Marrakech.

A lively cultural center in the foothills of the Grand Atlas, Marrakech features some of the best markets in Morocco. The Place Djemaa-el-F'na, or "assembly of the dead," where Sultans once displayed criminals, is now the locals and visitors gathering place for entertainment and dining. A showcase of merchants, jugglers, snake charmers, soothsayers and spice vendors fill the large square with unusual sights and smells.

Absorb the culture and travel Marrakech by caleches, traditional horse drawn carriages. A relaxing way to see different parts of the city, the carriages have the right-of-way and access to many places cars do not. Also, try the traditional Moroccan fare: harira soup, lamb, couscous, vegetables, and mint tea.

While Marrakech itself is a living exhibition, the city's museums offer a look at local crafts displayed in restored homes and mansions of great historic significance. The Musée Dar Si Saïd (Museum of Morocco), Musée Tiskiwin and the Musée de Marrakech show official collections of fine art, carpets, carvings and jewelry.

The 19th century Bahia Palace was the official residency of the Grand Vizier during Sultanate rule and is still used as the home to the visiting King of Morocco. Here ornate, tiled courtyards and reception halls are decorated with intricate carved stucco and painted woodwork.
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