We fell in love with Chefchaouen, the blue city in the North of Morocco. We were moved by the sheer uniqueness and unearthly feeling of this place. I liked it far better than for example the old city of Fez. Walking the medina of Chefchaouen, a cobblestone maze of lucent blue colors, it feels like heaven. Your own blue heaven.
Because that’s exactly what the color blue is all about in Chefchaouen. To the original inhabitants, the blue represents the sky, God and heaven. It is certainly not only to cool down the houses or ward off insects.
Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 by Moorish and Jewish refugees who fled from Spain. With that spiritual meaning (sky, God and heaven) of the color blue in mind, the Jewish inhabitants started to paint complete houses and alleys. When the Jews of Chefchaouen emigrated back to Israel around 1948, the Chaouenis kept the tradition alive.
Unspoiled and quaint Chefchaouen
The medina with its narrow winding lanes and its various shades of blue gets you in complete different moods every time: it’s cool when you pass through a completely painted corridor. I’ts Mediterranean when colorful planters are positioned on blue stairs. And it’s definitely surreal when you feel you are floating in the middle of a Sea of Blue.
Around every corner of the hilly cobblestone streets you find a piece of art. Every doorway, every tile, every doorknob, and every archway. I kept on taking out my camera to capture the magic of Blue…
And I tried to capture how we were all entranced by the blue…
Laid-back village life
The traditional community life is strong and can be experienced throughout town when you wander the neighborhoods. Although the town of course attracts tourists, it’s not that they clutter the small streets. On the contrary. Start early to see the village come to life slowly. This is daily life in the mountains of Morocco.
It sometimes truly feels like an open-air historic museum. The local baker served us freshly baked Moroccan cookies out of this blue colored bakery. Coconut and cinnamon taste.
The tanner worked on his new sheep skin, hanging against a blue colored wall. It took him days to comb it and make it soft.
Fresh orange juices are being squeezed for you for only a couple of Dirhams.
Old men in traditional djellabas walk towards the main square Outa Hammam to have a chat. In the afternoon the shimmering heat of the day slowly dissapears; this is the time of day that all locals use to get together.
And behind many of the city’s blue doors you will find local craftmanship: weaving, spinning, wood carving, and more.
At the local market women are selling their home-grown vegetables. They have probably walked for 30-60 minutes to reach the town from nearby farmer villages.
Blue city of Chefchaouen
I have always wanted to visit Chefchaouen, after seeing pictures from other travelers who walked its streets before we did. And it surpassed all our expectations. It’s not only the medina where you can spend your time as there are also multiple hiking trails into the mountains. You will have a blast!
Entering the medina of Chefchaouen is an experience. Forget the dark and earth-toned medinas of Fez or Marrakech. Chef is the place that will make you want to jump with excitement!
Beautifully situated between several peaks of the Rif Mountains, this is one of the highlights of the region. Here one can truly say: Blue is King.
Be careful and respectful when taking pictures of people. As in other Moroccan places, people don’t like having a camera pointed at them. Make sure to ask and respect the local community.
How to get to Chefchaouen?
Closest city on the main tourist trail is Fes. From Fes take the CTM bus to Chefchaouen. Trip will take 4,5 hours (including one stop). There are 3-4 busses a day. Tickets can be bought online or at the CTM bus station for 75 Dirham each.
Where to stay?
We spent 3 lovely nights at the Dar Echchaouen hotel. Only a 5-minute walk from the medina and with staggering views of the city (even from your hotel room!). The hotel has its own swimming pool.