If there was one city we weren’t going to skip during our time in Morocco, it was Chefchaouen. We weren’t strangers to this little town nestled in the Rif Mountains. It was a destination we’ve seen grace the pages of many travel magazines and online publications, labeled as “mesmerizing”, “electric beauty”, and “Morocco’s best kept secret”.
Was it all marketing fluff, words that look good on magazine covers, or was the town really as beautiful as they made it sound? We were about to find out.
We rocked up to Chefchaouen early afternoon, after an easy 2-hour drive from Tangier. We didn’t book a hotel or have any solid plans for our visit.
We parked our car and with backpacks on our backs walked right into the medina and were immediately transported into a fairytale setting. We expected to see some blue in Chefchaouen, maybe a few cute blue alleyways, a couple of blue buildings, but no. EVERYTHING inside the Chefchaouen medina was blue, from the public square and government buildings, to flower pots and benches.
What’s with all the blue you ask? Well as the story goes, this funky decor dates back to 1471, when the city of Chefchaouen was founded as a small fortress to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. It was around that time that the city also became a large settlement for the Jewish people who fled here after the Spanish Reconquista. It is said that it was the Jewish teachings that connect the colour blue with the sky and with God’s power that inspired the locals to decorate the medina in bright blue.
Today, despite the absence of Jewish refugees, the bright blue colour remains a symbol of the village. And even more so, it is, what turned this small town of some 40,000 residents into one of the biggest tourist attractions in Morocco. We heard that to keep up the appeal, the local government even provides the necessary supplies (paint, brushes, etc) to the villages.
But it wasn’t just the picture perfect blue backdrops that we loved about Chefchaouen. Having visited lots of other cities in Morocco, we can confidently say that Chefchaouen was by far the most laid back, the most friendly, and the most pleasant town we came across during our time in Morocco.
We ended up staying in a beautiful little riad in the heart of the medina, and spent 2 days roaming around the beautiful blue alleyways, indulging in delicious food, or people watching in the main square.
Chefchaouen is one of those towns that doesn’t require a well thought out itinerary, it doesn’t have a long list of things to see and do, or a slew of activities and attractions you just can’t miss.
The beauty of Chefchaouen is the town itself…