Today Chefchaouen is a fun and safe city to visit that welcomes tourists Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Its medina or medieval walled city is easy to get around; you won’t get nearly as lost here as you might in Fez or Marrakesh because Chefchaouen is much smaller and also on a hillside, from where you can get some perspective. The general mood of the city is calm (perhaps it’s because of all the blue paint?), and a cool mountain river rushes by the southern limits of town, so ‘Chaouen makes for a great place to recharge from the excitement of the imperial cities or the intensity of the desert.
In this post I’m going to present six of my favorite photographs from my stay here and do a little write-up beneath each one. Enjoy!
Plaza Uta el-Hammam
|Plaza Uta el-Hammam|
This square was clearly Tourist Central but I really loved the atmosphere: people coming and going to the mosque, traders haggling over their wares, and waiters encouraging tourists to eat at their restaurants. A great evergreen tree in the center complements the brown stone fortress to the south nicely. Moroccan dads sit around tables and smoke, sip coffee, and chatter on in Arabic while quiet German tourists walk by, clad in bright synthetic clothes and discreetly talking to their partners.
|Running errands in the medina|
When I was in Fez I was super intimidated of its massive, 9,000-street medina so I hired a private tour guide to take me through the city, but Chefchaouen’s old town was much more manageable. Even if you didn’t know where you were going, if you just kept walking in the same direction you’d end up on one of the main streets where all the shops and restaurants were and eventually wind up either outside the city walls or in the plaza. Plus, since Chefchaouen is on a hillside, you instantly know generally where you are, because up the stairs is north and down the hill is south.
The medina itself is where all the blue paint is at—the doors, walls, and stairs of all the homes crowding around the narrow streets are covered in some shade of blue, often with a white accent on the top.
The color scheme
|Mark Rothko-style photograph: White and Blue|
My Lonely Planet guide tells me that Jews and Muslims fleeing 100% Catholic Spain in 1494 came to live in Chefchaouen, bringing Spanish homebuilding traditions with them. In contrast with the typical Moroccan, windowless, courtyard-centered houses, the ones constructed by these refugees incorporated whitewashing and plenty of windows and balconies. Interestingly, the town was painted green until the 1930s when blue paint came in.
Are there any other cities you can think of that are famous for going crazy with the same bucket of paint? What do you think of the photo-post format? Tell me what you think below in the comments!
For more pictures, check out my set on Flickr here.