The huge Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur is a surprising sight in the heart of Casablanca. With its unique architecture, the disused church seems both out of place and in harmony with its surroundings all at the same time.
History of the Casablanca Cathedral
Casablanca's cathedral was built in 1930, when Morocco was still under the rule of Catholic France. Falling into disuse after Morocco's independence in 1956, the Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur was used as a school and then a culture center. Today, it hosts fairs and exhibitions.
What to See at the Casablanca Cathedral
The Sacré-Coeur Cathedral is a fascinating work of architecture. Designed by the French architect Paul Tournon, who also designed several churches in France, it represents an interesting experiment in the decorative use of cast concrete.
The imposing church is built in a Neo-Gothic style with clear Art Deco and Moroccan Muslim influences. The twin towers flanking west front look like square minarets, and the small windows that pierce the upper parts of the cathedral would be at home in any mosque. The external buttresses along the roof have sharp right angles instead of the usual curves.
Inside, the Sacré-Coeur is less inspiring; utilitarian uses and general neglect have taken their toll. The cathedral is sometimes left open for visits, including access to the towers that provide great views over Casablanca to the Atlantic Ocean.
When we visited, there was a free archaeological exhibition in the nave and a man seated at a desk near the door encouraged us to the climb the towers for the views. (And he encouraged us to give a donation upon our return.)
The tower stairs are made of concrete and crumbling brick and covered in the feathers and deposits of nesting pigeons, but it seems safe enough and the views are worth it. The tower climb also provides the unique opportunity to view the cathedral's unusual buttresses and even walk on them as far as you like. But beware - there are no rails or safety features to be found!
Quick Facts on the Casablanca Cathedral
|Names:||Casablanca Cathedral · Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur de Casablanca · Sacre-Coeur Cathedral|
|Styles:||Gothic Revival style; Art Deco; modern|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||33.591144° N, 7.624490° W|
|Address:||Parc de la Ligue Arabe|
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Casablanca Cathedral|
- Personal visit (April 8, 2007).
- The Sunken Cathedral - Nicolai Steinø
- Paul Tournon - Artnet.com
- Casablanca - Morocco.com
- Other Sites in Casablanca - VirtualTourist.com
- Photos of the Casablanca Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Casablanca Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Casablanca Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.