Chefchaouen: The Blue City That’s Morocco’s Best Kept Secret
Many holidaymakers will escape the country for a glimpse at some blue sky or blue sea. However, a city in the north west of Morocco provides something quite unique – a place that is blue in its entirety.
Chefchaouen, sometimes shortened to Chaouen, is city where everything from stores and mosques to government buildings and residential properties are all covered in the blue. The effect is almost magical; every street provides you with a photogenic sight unlike anything you have seen before. It is like walking through a legendary underwater city like Atlantis, but one surprisingly tucked inside the Rif Mountains.
Chefchaouen’s inimitable aesthetic derives from its Jewish roots. The city became a place of refuge for Jews at two different stages of history – first in the 15th century when they were fleeing from the Reconquista of Spain, and again some 400 years later when they were escaping the Nazis during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It is said that those who took residence in Chefchaouen painted it blue as the colour is symbolic of heaven in Judaism.
While only a few of the 40,000 residents who now live in Chefchaouen are Jewish (when a homeland was made in Israel, many of the city’s residents once again relocated) their history continues to be upheld. Every spring, the local government supplies the city’s citizens with blue paint to give their homes and businesses a fresh coat of blue.
Chefchaouen is still very much a well-kept secret as most tourists journey to Casablanca or Marrakesh instead. However, its rich history and awe-inspiring visuals have attracted many cultured travelers to the city – particularly those taking a day trip or short break during a visit to Tangier, which is just a two hour drive away. It has been celebrated by travel bloggers, is frequently seen on social media and it was even used as the backdrop to the Giorgio Armani advert La Ville Bleue featuring Jamie Morgan in 2011.
It is far from just the visual appeal that has visitors flocking to this exotic Moroccan city though. Chefchaouen is also home to splendid Moroccan cuisine where tourists can try local food like Tagine, a meat or fish dish that is served with a mixture of spices and vegetables. Furthermore, Chefchaouen is a hub of remarkable retail where you can by handmade gems, shawls, pots and much more (don’t forget to haggle if there something catches your eye though, as is the custom in Chaouen). In all its beauty and colour it is the perfect inspiration for one of our next season.