Chefchaouen; it is called the Blue City for a good reason! The walls, the doors, the streets – everything you can see is painted a shade of blue. Everywhere you look there is a photo opportunity, and it takes a great deal of control to not overdo it. (That being said, we still came away with 300+ photos after only two days…)
Nestled in the Rif Mountains, Chaouen is a pretty smattering of blue against an impressive backdrop of greens and browns. We followed the steep, winding streets of the medina (the old, walled inner-city, reserved for pedestrians only) up the hillside and out through the upper wall. Here, we were able to climb one of the buttresses and take in the sprawling view of the town below.
There seem to be a few theories as to why the walls were painted blue; we read that some believe the colour keeps mosquitoes away. Another is that the Jews brought the colour with them when they took refuge there in the 1930s, the blue symbolising the Sky and Heaven, and reminding you to live a spiritual life. Although I did not get bitten during our stay, I am more inclined to believe the second theory, plus it is the more romantic of the two! Either way, the narrow, colourful streets are fascinating, and they certainly keep the tourists coming.
The medina itself is quite small, and centred around the main square and Casbah. It may take a little while to get your bearings, but once you do, you will find the city quite navigable.
When you tire of walking the streets and taking photos, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy a glass of mint tea (hopefully you like your tea sweet!), or to do a spot of shopping – you will find your usual tourist tat, as well as tradition Berber crafts.
For your daily dose of culture, pop into the Ethnographic museum within the Casbah. The entrance fee is a mere 10MAD, and goes towards the reconstructions and upkeep done by the Ministry of Culture. You can climb the tower for a view over the square, and read the informational signs as you go – so long as you can read Arabic, French, or Spanish. Regardless, it is worth the money just for the view and the architecture.
We enjoyed our time in Chefchaouen. Two days was more than enough to become acquainted with the twisty streets. Like most places, we had the best time simply getting lost and wandering around.
Next up, Fes!