Why is Chefchaouen blue?
The first thing that comes to mind is: Why is Chefchaouen blue?
My name is Yousra and I am a student from Morocco, and an editor and writer at Womenhancers. Let me explain why and take you on a little tour of Chefchaouen.
There are many theories and explanations for why the blue city of Morocco is the way it looks today. To figure this out, let’s have a quick crash course on the historical background of this otherworldly city.
The Insta-famous Chefchaouen Morocco, often described as a soul magnet was founded in 1471. It was originally built as a means of defense against the Portuguese invasion. However, it only bloomed with the arrival of Jewish and Muslim refugees, who left Spain because of the forced conversion to Christianity.
The new tenants were the ones behind the signature look of the blue city of Morocco. As they introduced a new European element to the houses when they took the whitewashing of walls and streets as a habit.
Now on to the alleged stories of the blue colour found in Chefchaouen Morocco. Some people claim that the blue colour had some medical benefits, including the prevention of Malaria. Others say that the walls were painted in that particular colour to chase mosquitoes away.
Other versions bring it back to the presence of the immigrant Jews as residents, as the blue colour reminded them of the presence of a blue sky above them and strengthened the presence of God in their minds.
Many, many more versions and myths do exist concerning the explanation of the vibrant blue in Chefchaouen Morocco. However, the only truth that we know, is that locals are preserving that tradition. They constantly refresh and work on maintaining the strong popping colours on the walls, doors, and streets of Chefchaouen.
Chefchaouen Things To Do & See
1. Wander in the maze-like streets of the Medina
You could go to the blue city of Morocco with absolutely no checklist of places, and still have a wonderful time. It is possible thanks to the beauty of the streets and habitations of the small town. That makes it easy AND fun to get lost in the charming shades of blue that overtake Chefchaouen.
2. Kasbah Museum
Located at a high point in the centre of the medina, surrounded by extraordinary scenery of blue buildings ornamented with green citrus trees, the Kasbah Museum stands peacefully in the midst of this beauty aka the blue city of Morocco.
For visitors that are there for the fascinating human history of Chefchaouen Morocco, this building hosts a cultural heritage that is reflected in the artifacts. The musical instruments, the pottery, the clothing and traditions of the Chefchaouen region are all elements that can be found there.
The blue city of Morocco is a beautiful town with a beautiful history brought back into life with the help of the Kasbah Museum.
3. Uta el-Hammam
If you have been to this country before you would have noticed that every town has a unique historical spot (similar to a square or Plaza in European cities). The blue city of Morocco is no different. And that spot is called Uta-El-Hamam.
The area has a chill artistic ambience about it, and is especially breathtaking in the evening, as the lights are dimmed and some restaurants and shops light candles here and there.
Photographers have plenty of material to create great artwork. From the mountains that overlook the town, to the Spanish-influenced architecture, and of course the simple lifestyle of Chefchaouen’s people.
4. Ras el-ma
At less than 1 Km from the blue city of Morocco, the source of water named Ras-el-ma (which translates to head of the water) overflows a few mountain rocks to reach the population of Chefchaouen. It’s also a highly popular gathering-spot for the locals. As they gather around to hang out on both sides of the water flow.
Once you reach that spot you’ll notice the built-in washing spots, where some people bring their laundry and wash their clothes usually in a collective way. Teenagers especially love to go there to escape the heat on summer days. It is indeed a lovely place.
Ethnic Groups In Chefchaouen
Moroccans are mainly of Berber origin, as it is the case of Morocco’s neighbouring Maghreb countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania). The Berbers are the descendants of the prehistoric populations of Morocco. However many regions of the country has an Arab or mixed population.
This includes the Chefchaouen region. The town and its surrounding tribes and villages are a rich mixture of ethnic groups. Berber tribes people and descendants of the Moorish immigrants from Spain are the main residents of this area of Morocco.
The people are called Jebala, which translates to “Mountain people”. The language spoken is Moroccan Arabic, also known as Darija, even though the cities of the North have more of an accent and dialect to their spoken language.
Chefchaouen Customs & Etiquette
Each region has its own specificity, contributing to the national culture. Morocco has placed among its main priorities the protection of its diversity and the preservation of its cultural heritage.
People from Chefchaouen are also highly committed to preserving their cultural identity. Women are often seen draping a red and white striped garment around their lower-body, and wearing a traditional hat named “Taraza”.
On the other hand, men wear a national traditional clothing called Djellaba. It’s a loose garment with long sleeves, often in colours like white and beige.
The youngsters of the region are, however, less likely to walk around in these clothes. But they do resort to them on some special occasions.
Families in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is a rather small town, closely surrounded by rural aspects. Families are typically traditional. Women are the centre of the household, as they work hard every day in keeping the house feel like home. Taking care of the whole family and keeping it tied together.
A very common phenomena within families is having their sons get married and live with them in the same house. Making your cousins more like brothers and sisters to you.
However, the situation is changing today. The Moroccan society is becoming more individualistic compared to their highly social parents and grandparents.
Typical Foods in Chefchaouen
Moroccan cuisine has the same basics throughout all regions of the country. Almost each region adds its special touch and alternations in the dishes, based on what the agriculture of the area offers.
Chefchaouen is located in the midst of hectares of olive trees. The population there enjoys that gift to make the best olive oil you could ever taste.
Which leads us to our main point. Olive Oil is at the centre of the cuisine of this region. To the point where for breakfast you would have fresh bread, dip it in olive oil, of course without forgetting the sweet mint tea. And you’ll remember the taste of that combination for a very long time.
Restaurants in Chefchaouen
Restaurants in Chefchaouen are all Trip Advisor approved. You can choose from restaurants with international cuisine, local dishes and of course the places where you can find anything you wish to eat.
A tourist favourite is Aladdin Restaurant. A romantic atmosphere on the inside, and a wonderful view from the restaurant terrace. People enjoy a varied menu of international dishes like the Spanish Omelet.
But in Chefchaouen restaurants, you can surely savour a wide range of local dishes, including every kind of Tajine and Couscous.