BLUE CITY OF THE HILLS

In Morocco, the city of Chefchaouen is located 60 KM south of Tetouan. Chefchaouen has a history of Spanish-influence and is located in the heart of the Rif Mountains, where surrounding trees, hills, springs, and wildflowers attract tourists looking for a calm getaway. Just a few hours away from Tangier, or the Imperial cities of Rabat, Meknes, and Fez, Chefchaouen offers the nature lover rows of hills perfect for hiking and outdoor activities. In this Moroccan town, dubbed “the Blue City”, the Berber mountain people of Morocco have a lot to offer tourists. Their hand-woven earth-tone blankets, rugs, and even lamp shades are seen displayed at the small shops within the city’s medina walls. They will welcome you in, ask you to look around, and even offer you some mint tea without hassling you to buy. Also, dotted throughout the medina, you’ll find wood workers who are so engrossed in their craft, they might not look up from what they are doing until they hear the muezzin calling all the faithful to prayer as the sun is setting. Chefchaouen is also the center of hashish production. So, be aware that touts and false-guides (called Faux-Guides, in French), will offer to sell you some or take you on a promenade to show you where it is grown. Even though you will see locals puffing away in public, it’s best for foreigners visiting Morocco to avoid such solicitations since you may end up getting arrested and serving an unwanted jail sentence. ‘Chaouen’ as it is known to local Moroccans, is a great place to explore one of the country’s most interesting, yet small medinas. You can take a walk along the main avenue, Hassan II and enter into the Medina through Bab l’Ain.

In the springtime, in the Nouvelle Ville, you can sit in the Place Mohammed V Park and enjoy the view of the mountains in the background. The old city, called Place Uta el Hammam, is a photographer’s delight, and one of the few places in Morocco that has an octagonal minaret next to the Grand Mosque. In the 1600s, Moulay Ismail built Chefchaouen as an Arab fortress. In the centuries that followed, Chaouen saw itself transformed from a Spanish prison to what it is today. If you visit the museum, in the Kasbah, you can see the collections and artifacts that bring the diverse history of Morocco to life. One of the main attractions of this region is the unique style of clothing worn by the Berbers. You will notice most of the men wearing thick, earth-tone djellabas made of wool as they stroll through the blue and whitewashed walls of the medina. These gowns keep the men warm during the long winters they experience in the high altitudes of the Moroccan mountains. On the other hand, the women will be seen wearing colorful straw hats, and a red-and-white-striped cloth tied around their waist that looks like a skirt. So, as you hike among the Rif’s lower knolls, be sure to admire the backdrop of the city as you discover the warmth and friendliness of the village people in Morocco.

I’m Blue Da Ba Dee Da Ba Dye

Taking a train from Marrakech to Tangier and hopping in a bus or taxi for the last stretch to Chefchaouen is probably the most common way to reach the infamous blue city in the Northern part of Morocco. We decided to pay a little bit more to rent a car, for the freedom to stop and go whenever we like. Not to mention that we are obsessed with road trips and who wouldn’t want to add the adventure of a road trip through Morocco to their list.

I am not sure how many hours I have spent dreaming about adventuring through the narrow blue streets of Chefchaouen. It is as if the Smurfs were real and left their homes to the Moroccans. This city is nothing like I have ever seen before. It is not only the color that makes it so special but also the people. The locals in the north are generally more relaxed and therefore seem to be more friendly and easy going. Having a conversation with a stranger on the street is just as much part of the experience as getting lost in the medina.

The medina is fairly small and can definitely be explored on one day; however, we found ourselves in new side streets everyday. I don’t know what I adored most, the beautiful doors or the spices and goods shops that pop up all over the city.

I am going to stop beating around the bush — we simply loved it.

The vibe of a city definitely affects the experience of the traveler and it felt so freeing and peaceful when exploring the quiet side streets of Chefchaouen, especially after the madness of Fez and Marrakech.

Kasbah Museum — Right across the square from Casa Aladin is this old Kasbah. At only 10 dirham (about $1) to get in, this is a very nice space to relax, wander and climb up the tower to see yet another panoramic view of the city. (Hours: Wed – Mon from 9am – 1pm and then again at 3pm – 6pm).

The Spanish Mosque — Sitting alone atop a hill, you can find this old mosque. Its view looks out over the east side of Chefchaouen and it therefor a popular spot to watch the sunset. Though losing ourselves in the side streets of a city is amongst our favorite things to do while traveling, we also like the birds eye view.

If you are up in the air about which city to visit in Morocco, Chefchaouen should not be missed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sapphire blue city

The Blue city in the world, all painted in blue, Chefchaouen city looks like a mirage perched up in the middle of the Rif Mountains, in Northwest Morocco (Africa). Also called Chaouen, the mountain village was under the Spanish influence until it was returned to Morocco in 1956. incredible pictures,  of the blue city, also called the ‘Blue Pearl’.

‘Inland from Tangier and Tetouan and situated in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is a photographer’s dream.’
Painted blue by Jewish refugees in the 1930s, Chefchaouen must be the bluest city in the whole world.
Friendly and pleasant, Chefchaouen (chef – sh – ow – en) is an attractive introduction to the Morocco outside the hustle and bustle of Casablanca, Fez, Rabat and Marrakech. It’s a city of 50,000, but it feels intimate and manageable inside the medina’s maze.
It was founded in 1472 as a fortress to protect against Portuguese invasions. Of course those in power switched back and forth numerous times, so today’s Chefchaouen is a mix of Arabic, French and Spanish influences.’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Morocco’s Blue City

In Chefchaouen city, a quick and deep connection between the city and our five senses is immediately created.
Once you arrive in Chefchaouen, you breathe fresh and pure air, your lungs experiencing a rebirth after being used to pollution and humidity. The water arriving directly from the local “ain rass elma” source is one of the multiple blessings of this town. Wherever you look, the “Blue ” is the dominate color, scattered all over the place. The best thing to have in the early morning is traditional tea, with aromatic herbs that will provide you energy for the whole day.
The favorite noise of the local community is listening to oneself, which is a change of pace from repetitive car. The nature is breathtaking, and the local residents are the sweetest people ever. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this lovely city.
Everything is naturally artistic in this city, and bliss begins the moment you arrived in the sphere of Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen City beautiful.

Chefchaouen City beautiful and relaxed mountain town.

Chefchaouen city is situated in the heart of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen (sometimes called Chaouen) is relaxed, with very affordable accommodations, and above all, quite stunning to look at. The streets and most of the buildings in the old part of town (medina) are painted a most brilliant sky blue. The mountains which you can see at the end of every cobbled street are rugged and majestic. The clear mountain light just adds a magical touch to the place. It’s no wonder that Chefchaouen is a favorite destination for backpackers visiting Morocco. The main square in the medina is lined with cafes and filled to the brim with locals and tourist mingling easily.

The Plaza Uta el-Hammam is the heart of the medina. This is the spot to take a break, drink some mint tea and watch the world go by.

Plaza Uta el-Hammam, Chefchaouen

Restaurants and cafes line one side of Plaza Uta el-Hammam with views of the Grand Mosque and the walls of the medina. In the late afternoon locals and tourist gather in the square to chat and watch the world go by. Food stalls are set up as the sun sets, offering all kinds of delicious snacks. The restaurants and cafes offer traditional Moroccan fare as well as western food.

Old City Walls in Chefchaouen, Morocco

The beautiful backdrop of the Rif Mountains are evident in this picture. The Rif Mountains offer wonderful day hikes for visitors. Your hotel or pension should be able to organize a trip for you with a dependable guide. The Rif Mountains is where most of Morocco’s marijuana is grown, so be careful not to stray too far off the path.