We’ll always have Casablanca: A trip to the land of henna
Travel to Casablanca in style and discover the magic of “We’ll always have Paris.” The Moroccan holiday you have always dreamed of.
The nearly 2,500 kilometres that separate Paris and the city of Casablanca in Morocco have never been an obstacle for these two capitals. With his famous line of “We’ll always have Paris,” Humphrey Bogart unintentionally placed this Moroccan city on the map, linking it to a world of romance and exoticism.
Along with Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez, Casablanca rounds out the four destinations that travellers must visit in this country. The medina and the winding streets in the centre of this coastal city house a number of bazaars, mosques, restaurants and artisanal workshops. The aromas meld with textures and colours, but the one souvenir that defines Casablanca is henna.
This natural reddish dye, obtained from the lawsonia inermis plant, has been used for centuries, primarily by women, to colour their skin and hair. However, this type of ephemeral tattoo has a meaning that goes beyond aesthetics: behind the philosophy lies baraka, a type of extrasensory power that protects wearers from the evil eye and negativity that many Moroccans believe in.
This belief originates from a Berber tradition, specifically the artisans who worked with pottery, leather and textile. Magical numbers, verses from the Koran, popular Arabic writings or geometric shapes that protected them against evil were included in these designs (and they still are).
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO CASABLANCA
The medina and the historic quarter of Casablanca are home to dozens of stalls from which to choose thousands of designs that can be painted onto the skin using natural henna. Although this tradition is usually linked to women, some Muslim men use henna to dye their hair and beard. This is tied to an old tale in which Mohammed coloured his beard using a natural dye for good luck.
To enjoy the baraka experience, the Barceló Casablanca hotel, located in the heart of the city, is one of the most modern alternatives for a holiday in Casablanca. Overlooking the city, it boasts stunning views of the Hassan II Mosque, the second largest in the world, as well as the Tukbal restaurant, which serves traditional Moroccan dishes with spices and colours as the main theme: tabbouleh, bissara (bean dip) and chebakia, one of the nation’s most popular desserts.