Africa & The Middle East Travel

Feeling Blue in Morocco

Chefchaouen – where the sky and the village become one

Have you ever walked in the deep end of an empty swimming pool? Or been inside an ice cave?  Or imagine what a surfer must feel like inside the curl of a giant blue wave. This is the best way I can come up with to describe walking around the bright blue city of Chefchaouen 

It’s mesmerizing, a bit blinding yet enchanting.  And weirdly makes me think about Smurfs.

And for a photographer – a dream come true.

We heard several different stories about when this town came to be blue (dubbed locally as the blue pearl).  Most likely it was in the 1930’s when Jews fleeing from Nazi-persecution adopted blue as a heavenly reminder to live a spiritual existence. Prior to this it was painted the more traditional Muslim green. Today, for whatever reason, the blinding blue has made the old Medina (founded in the 1400’s) unique.  In addition to the blue, Chefchaouen is nestled into the green Rif Mountains and the contrast is lovely. In fact the name Chefchaouen means “look at the peaks”.

Tours come here, but frequently just for a day. Staying for a few days really gives you time to see the little town in the early morning or after dark without a lot of visitors. Although unlike Fez or Marrakech, Chefchaouen never feels overly crowded.

As a photographer, my favorite thing to do is to get lost. And here it is very easy to do. The labyrinth of alleys, each one vividly blue, white, periwinkle and occasionally terra-cotta orange, are a colorful maze. Wandering both day and night presents great photo opportunities, unexpected vistas, as well as encounters with locals who, kindly, redirect you when you suddenly find yourself at a  deadend.

As you wander, you will enjoy plenty of opportunity to shop for Moroccan treasures of every color and kind.  You will go up and down stairs and paths and stumble into delicious restaurants, some with views and others tucked neatly into the hillside.

Finding alcohol though will prove to be difficult in this Muslim village.   Cats however, are everywhere. Some of the fancier hotel restaurants serve alcohol.

Visiting the spectacular and recently restored kasbah ($1 admission) is highly recommended.  It’s small but a climb up the tower provides a perfect birds eye view and a great photo perch.

Also a climb up to the recently restored city walls and to the Spanish Mosque about a mile and a half from town provide the more intrepid visitor a spectacular vantage of the mountains and the blue pearl below.

We have only seen two places so far in Morocco, but I know without a doubt that Chefchaouen will be one of my favorite memories of Morocco. So if you come to Morocco don’t miss the beautiful blue pearl, where you will find yourself taking more photos than you can ever know what to do with.

And maybe thinking about Smurfs.

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  • Reply emihokumen

    I love getting lost too! Love these pictures. Absolutely gorgeous. I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco & blue is my favorite color. Haha so perfect post! Thank you for sharing.

    November 3, 2017 at 8:40 pm
  • Reply Ruth

    This place is a dream! I need to go! I like how you compared a visit to the town to being inside a way. That is a great way to put it. Interesting how the town got its hue.

    November 3, 2017 at 8:58 pm
  • Reply GallopAroundTheGlobe (@KiaraGallop)

    Chefchaouen has been on my travel hit list for so long and I’m really hoping I can make it there next year! I love your description of the place in the opening paragraph, and the fact that there are plenty of cats there only makes me even more desperate to go 🙂

    November 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm
  • Reply passportforliving

    I can’t believe I’ve not been to Morocco yet! The blue is such a vibrant colour, it must be beautiful there!

    November 3, 2017 at 10:47 pm
  • Reply roxannereid1

    Lovely photos. This place is definitely on my to-do list when I make it to Morocco. I’m very encouraged by your comment that it’s not that crowded too.

    November 4, 2017 at 7:38 am
  • Reply Kate - Travel for Difference

    How absolutely incredible! To be honest I had no idea that Morocco was filled with so much vibrancy. What a magical place

    November 4, 2017 at 9:13 am
  • Reply unaveronicavagante

    I have seen incredible photos of Morocco, but never read anything about the origin of its colour…
    It is so interesting!

    November 4, 2017 at 3:29 pm
  • Reply Jessica Carpenter

    I agree wholeheartedly! I adored Chefchaouen sooo much. And at least a couple days is so wonderful to be able to wander early in the morning. I got lost in the mazes (pleasantly) by myself and saw so many kids walking to school. Chefchaouen was possibly my favorite spot in Morocco. And I loved the view from the Kasbah as well as the hike up the hill above town.

    November 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm
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