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Visit Chefchaouen: The Blue City of Morocco

Sai Kardile Jun 26, 2020
Pleasantly drunk on the primary hue of blue, Chefchaouen, is a dreamy bolthole for tourists and photographers. Pegged as "The Blue City of Morocco", this gorgeous Berger city sits quietly amid the Rif Mountains.
If you are an avid Instagram user, there's a good chance that you have already oohed and aahed over its dreamy cornflower drenched streets.
So far we have established this—if blue rings your chimes, then Chefchaouen will have you tickled pink or should we say blue.
Founded in 1471 by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami (a bit of a mouthful really), this Berger city is filled with artisanal charm, ambrosial food, and alluring Moroccan architecture.
Once known by the name of Chaouen, the vibrant city underwent a name change to what is now popularly known as Chefchaouen—meaning "look at the peaks or horns", a poetic reference to the shape of the mountain.
But why is "The Blue City of Morocco" so, well, blue? The theories are as different as the shades of the said hue.
Some ascribe it to the Jews who fled during the Spanish Inquisition and settled in this Moorish bastion.
As per their tradition, suffusing one of the threads of their prayer shawl with Tekhelet—a blue-violet natural dye made of shellfish was a way of keeping one in touch with the divine power.
Some believe the blue keeps mosquitoes at bay, while some attribute it to color's cooling effect, which provides relief from the heat.
Whether you are an adventure aficionado, or a handicraft enthusiast, the culturally and aesthetically rich city of Chefchaouen will have you under its spell just as soon you clap your eyes on it.
There are a whole bunch of exciting things to do in Chefchaouen.
Wander the Labyrinthine Streetscape
If the stacked cubiform houses of Santorini make your heart skip a beat, then the blue-awash streets, alleyways, and walkways of Chaouen will make it belt out songs a la Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia.
That's how happy you'll be sauntering through its meandering cobbled streets and bustling Medina. Oh, and did we mention how the arched Moroccan architecture gives the city a charming fairytale-like allure?
Seek Adventure in its Varied Geography
While it's true that wandering the city's labyrinthine topography requires a certain level of fitness, serious thrill-seekers among us will love the blue city of Chefchaouen for its breathtaking peaks, gorges, valleys, and waterfalls.
If you are a true adventure enthu cutlet, then you will thank us for introducing you to the Akchour waterfall hike.
A picturesque haven environed by luscious vegetation where people go for a relaxing swim in the ice-cold emerald waters.
Another wonder you will find on the trail is the Bridge of God, an unusual geological formation which is a beautiful spot to watch the sun slowly sink below the horizon.
Other things to do in Chefchaouen include trekking in the Talassemtane National Park and hiking all the way up to Chefchaouen's picture-picture peak of Jeb al-Kalaa to get sweeping views of the city.
Immerse Yourself in the Rich Monumental Heritage
The best way to get the feel of a city, its culture and people is by visiting a museum. The Kasbah Museum, which once used to be a fortress has now been transformed into the Ethnographic Museum.
The Museum houses a collection of musical instruments, items of clothing, traditional weapons, and more. Its charming Andalusian-styled garden will inspire contemplation.
The Spanish Mosque in Chaouen is another monument worth a visit. The mosque was constructed in the 1920s during the Rif war and is sited on a quiet hill.
The hiking trail, which starts from Bab al Ansae, the eastern gate of the Medina, takes about 40-45 minutes. The spot offers 360 degrees magnificent vistas of the city, which are to die for.
Treat Your Taste Buds to Unique Flavors and OJ (lots of it)
The exotic onslaught of aromas and colorful spices is probably the first thing your senses will be exposed to as you stroll the blue streets of Chefchaouen.
The ideal way to begin your culinary adventure is by stopping at one of the city's many bakeries and biting into the freshly-made bread along with a cup of mint tea and goat cheese.
For lunch and dinner variants of wholesome vegetable or meat tagine (the dish takes its name from the earthenware pot in which the ingredients are cooked) will delightfully calm the hiking-induced hunger pangs.
A tasty fixture that you will find in almost every little nook and corner of Chefchaouen is orange juice! The joy of sipping on a freshly-squeezed cup of sweet OJ is simple yet so satisfying!
Shop to Your Heart's Content
The blue city of Morocco is heaven for handicraft admirers and lends itself as a vibrant hub for shopping.
From hand-woven rugs to shawls, handmade brass utensils to rich pigments, djellabas (hooded woollen cloaks) to sheshias (reed hats)—Chefchaouen will bring a sparkle in a shopaholic's eyes.
Outa-Hammam Square, a renowned historical plaza in Chefchaouen is a hip assemblage of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and monuments. A perfect place to loll around and spend some of your lovely lolly (money).
Moreover, for fresh produce (look for the strawberries and apples), mountain herbs, and artisanal trinkets, we recommend visiting the souk in the main square for an unaggressive shopping experience as opposed to its busier counterparts like Fez and Marrakech.
Feast Your Eyes on the Majestic Felines
Felinophiles, rejoice! If you ever dreamed about being in a place packed to the hilt with cats, then actually Chefchaouen comes close to making that a reality!
The blue city of Morocco has these four-legged fur balls in spades, in all shapes and sizes!
Given that there is no airport in Chefchaouen, the only way to get to the blue city by the CTM bus. Buses run from important cities like Fez, Tangier, and Casablanca. The taxi services are also comfortable and reliable.
There's no dearth of affordable and decent hotels, campgrounds, and hostels in Chefchaouen. You can also book a private apartment via Airbnb or stay in a luxury hotel depending on your budget.