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.