Chefchaouen, Morocco | The blue city

  • Emily Fraser
  • 18 Mar 20

Welcome to one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, and perhaps even the world, beautiful Chefchaouen.

Rising out of the verdant Rif Mountainside, this town washed in hundreds of shades of blue draws you in, even from a distance.

Located north of Fez, heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar, Chefchaouen has the looks and the charm. Aesthetically incredible and historically rich, there’s endless opportunities for exploration here.

Chefchaouen view

Photo by Priscilla Aster

The narrow laneways and arched windows and doorframes of the city’s medina area are a fusion of both Spanish and Moorish influences. It was founded in 1471 as a small Moorish fortress for exiles of Spain to fight Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. Along with the region’s Ghomara tribes, many Moriscos and Jews then settled there in medieval times after the Spanish Reconquista.

Mosaic streets

Photo by Priscilla Aster

Origins of the Blue City

The blue city’s famous walls are not just a stylistic choice either. Jewish religious teachings are in fact behind the design choice. They suggest that by dyeing thread with an ancient natural blue dye (called tekhelel) and weaving it into prayer shawls, people will be reminded of God’s power. And the regular painting of the buildings in Chefchaouen are said to be a testament to that. It is believed that Jewish refugees introduced blue to the town in 1930, as they considered blue to symbolise heaven and the sky. Along with the hundreds of blues, there are hundreds of theories as to how this town came to be, but whatever the way it is now believed that the blue walls also serve to repel mosquitoes.

Street art

Photo by Priscilla Aster

What to do?

crafts Source: Pxfuel

The medina is a photogenic maze for adventurers, photographers and wanderers to simply spend a day getting lost in. Chefchaouen also offers fantastic landscapes for hiking and trekking, with great contrasts between arid plains and valleys, picturesque mountain peaks and flowing streams.

The hundreds of spices, herbs and aromas wafting from the town’s many bakeries, kitchens and restaurants also make Chefchaouen a great spot for food lovers. You simply must try wood-fired oven baked bread, a signature Moroccan tagine and fresh mint tea.

If shopping is your forte, you will love strolling through the streets admiring the wares spilling from the shops of the many traders in the medina – think brass teapots, handwoven blankets, Moroccan slippers and hand painted plates.

Want to know more?

Here’s our favourite gallery to give you even more inspiration.

View all our tours that stop in Chefchaouen here.