Inside Chefchaouen’s Medina—a Study in Blue

Jodi Ettenberg November 26, 2013 3

We’ve featured Chefchaouen before on the G Adventures blog — most recently, it appeared in our weekly photo contest wrap-up, when its beautiful medina appeared alongside other “blue-themed” submissions. But the city, high above the Sahara in the Rif mountains of Morocco’s north, merits a photoessay all its own.

The bigger city of Chefchaouen is filled with modern trappings—ATMs and grocery stores stocked with popular brand names abound. However, the medina (Arabic for “old quarter”), is a whole other world, full of tiny alleyways and cobblestone streets, each twisting and turning up the face of a small hill. Chefchaouen’s medina isn’t just famous for its tiny lanes—almost all of Morocco’s towns possess a maze of alleys. No, what sets this town apart is its colour — the buildings inside the medina’s gates are painted in various shades of blue.

Chefchaouen took on its blue hue sometime in the late 15th century, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced to flee, some of Spain’s Jewish refugees settled in Chefchaoen, painting the buildings to ward off evil and using a colour that features prominently in Judaism. The colour is used to symbolise divinity. After all, blue is the color of the sky and sea. It represents balance, since its hue suggests a shade midway between white and black, day and night. While today the town is predominantly Muslim, the blue accent is still found throughout the old medina, making it one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever visited.

Cobblestone streets in Chefchaouen's old city.

Cobblestone streets in Chefchaouen’s old city.

Man walking in the sun, Chefchaouen.

Man walking in the sun, Chefchaouen.

Diorama of Chefchaouen taken from a rooftop in the old city

Diorama of Chefchaouen taken from a rooftop in the old city

One of many beautiful door knockers, each sitting on bright blue doors.

One of many beautiful door knockers, each sitting on bright blue doors.

Bathrooms even look photogenic in this town.

Bathrooms even look photogenic in this town.

One of many tiny squares inside the old city.

One of many tiny squares inside the old city.

Cat on the street, Chefchaouen.

Cat on the street, Chefchaouen.

 Alleyway leading to unknown places -- always fun to see where it takes you!

Alleyway leading to unknown places — always fun to see where it takes you!

 

3 Comments »

  1. Faye Girsh May 23, 2014 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Appreciate learning about this interesting and colorful, out of the way town. Love Morocco anyway and would not have known about this place. Thank you.

  2. Marilyn Benkler May 24, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Jodi, these photos are fabulous!
    Very inspiring. As an art and photography teacher, you have captured my soul. Exquisite! Can’t wait to pass your photos on to my students and visit the city, as well.Thank you very much.

  3. Taeko Brown June 11, 2014 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Awesome! Love Morocco made there with Gap.
    Can’t hardly wait to go back! will visit there.
    Thank for beautiful photo!

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