The Habbous neighborhood, also known as Quartier Habous, is a charming and historic district in Casablanca, Morocco. Established during the French Protectorate era, the neighborhood is an intriguing blend of traditional Moroccan architecture and French-inspired urban planning. Here's a detailed history of Habbous in Casablanca:
Origins and Planning:
The Habbous neighborhood was founded in the 1920s and 1930s under the French Protectorate, which lasted from 1912 to 1956. The neighborhood was conceived by French urban planners, led by Henri Prost and Auguste Cadet, as a solution to accommodate the growing population of Casablanca while preserving the city's architectural heritage.
The Quartier Habous was designed to be a harmonious blend of traditional Moroccan architecture and modern French urban planning. The neighborhood features narrow streets, lined with low-rise whitewashed buildings adorned with intricately carved wooden balconies and traditional zellij (mosaic) tilework. The French influence is evident in the layout of the neighborhood, which includes wide boulevards, public squares, and well-maintained gardens.
Social and Cultural Development:
The Habbous neighborhood was initially built to house both Moroccan and European residents, fostering a sense of social and cultural integration. Over the years, the neighborhood has evolved into a vibrant cultural hub, with numerous artisan shops, cafés, and bakeries offering traditional Moroccan goods and delicacies.
Royal Palace of Casablanca:
One of the most significant landmarks in the Habbous neighborhood is the Royal Palace of Casablanca (Dar el Makhzen), the King's secondary residence. The palace is not open to the public, but its impressive gates and surrounding gardens can be admired from the outside.
The Habbous neighborhood is also home to several notable religious landmarks, such as the Mahkama du Pacha and the Moulay Youssef Mosque. The Mahkama du Pacha, a magnificent building inspired by Moorish architecture, was initially built as a courthouse and now serves as a government administrative building. The Moulay Youssef Mosque, named after Sultan Moulay Youssef, who ruled Morocco during the French Protectorate, is an exquisite example of traditional Moroccan architecture and craftsmanship.
Tourism and Preservation:
The Habbous neighborhood has become a popular tourist destination for those seeking to experience the unique blend of Moroccan and French cultures. Efforts have been made to preserve and restore the neighborhood's historic buildings, ensuring that the architectural charm of the area is maintained for future generations.
In conclusion, the Habbous neighborhood in Casablanca is a historic district that showcases the fusion of traditional Moroccan architecture and French-inspired urban planning. Established during the French Protectorate era, the neighborhood has evolved into a vibrant cultural hub, attracting tourists with its charming streets, artisan shops, and notable landmarks. The preservation of the Habbous neighborhood's architectural heritage remains a priority, ensuring that this unique area continues to enchant visitors for years to come.