Unless you’re talking about the ocean, blue isn’t the colour you’d think to associate with Morocco. After all, this is a country represented by lavish cities and vast deserts. But hidden in the northern Rif mountain range is Chefchaouen – a blue oasis in Morocco’s red, rugged desert.
Chefchaouen (or Chaouen to the locals) is a city known for its variously hued blue-washed buildings which populate its old town. The powder-blue rinse covers not only the houses, but mosques, government buildings, public squares, streets, lampposts and even bins.
The custom is said to date back to the 15th century, though there are several theories as to why the walls were painted blue. One is that blue keeps the mosquitos away, and another theorises that fleeing Jewish families who took refuge in Morocco during World War II painted the walls as a reminder to lead a more spiritual life.
The town itself is a mixture of distinctive architecture and indigenous culture, painted against a backdrop of the striking Rif Mountains. The city almost looks like it was ripped from the pages of a storybook – but with a distinctive bohemian flair that differentiates it from any other Moroccan city.[related_articles]6013,5995[/related_articles]
Chefchaouen is ripe for exploring. Strolling through the medina’s ancient walls is a completely new experience, with intriguing markets, spice-filled souks, and the scent of freshly-baked loafs of bread filling the air. Bliss.
One for the bucket list, for sure.
(Lead image: Subherwal / Flickr)