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Welcome to Chefchaouen, the blue metropolis of Morocco. It’s well-known for all the homes and outlets painted completely different shades of blue. A magical place to get misplaced in together with your digital camera!
The solar beats down mercilessly, setting each coloration round me ablaze – and since all the things is blue, I really feel like I’m strolling above the clouds in a legendary sky kingdom.
However that is no fable, it’s Chefchaouen. Positioned in Northern Morocco, the town’s signature coloration is a wide range of calming shades of blue that decrease your blood strain in seconds.
Generally known as Morocco’s “blue pearl” or “blue metropolis”, the buildings in Chefchaouen are painted utilizing a talc or chalk-based paint that appears so beguiling.
Exploring a labyrinth of slim blue alleyways smelling of spice, incense, flowers, and contemporary oranges — was one of many highlights of my journey to Morocco. Plus it’s a photographer’s dream!
Listed below are some suggestions and strategies for issues to do in Chefchaouen.
Some will inform you that it’s a logo of Jewish solidarity. Within the 1930s, a sizeable inhabitants of Jewish refugees arrived in Chefchaouen, fleeing Nazi persecution and the rising risk of struggle.
The blue is supposed to characterize peace, security and the facility of heaven. On this model of the story, blue partitions quickly unfold outward from the town’s Jewish quarter, till the whole metropolis was aglow.
Kalam farigh! others would say (that’s Arabic for “nonsense”).
They’ll say the custom of portray partitions blue is Jewish, definitely, however goes again to the time of the town’s founding, within the 15th Century, when it was constructed round a fortress used to defend inhabitants towards Portuguese invaders.
At the moment, native Moroccans lived alongside Jews and Moriscos (former Muslims who had transformed to Christianity) for a century or extra.
The slim streets of Chefchaouen (or Chaouen, because the locals name it) make no try to melt the affect of the hillside the town is constructed on. In some circumstances, stone steps march straight up the slope, giving your legs a great exercise.
However when the streets open into public squares, look above the town, in the direction of the close by Riff mountains.
The mountains above the town give the looks of two horns – and it’s believed that that is the place the title Chefchaouen comes from (actually that means “watch the horns” in an area dialect).
However the remainder of the time, hold wanting round you. This can be a jaw-droppingly stunning metropolis! It transports you into a distinct world.
For this reason most vacationers hunt down Chefchaouen, to wander aimlessly via the slim streets & alleys, painted in an countless array of blue — turquoise, powder blue, celeste, robin’s-egg, indigo, cyan, periwinkle.
Go searching for colourful blankets or lamps within the souks hidden all through the medina. Marvel on the number of stunning doorways and detailed tile work that embellish every residence.
Sit down at a avenue cafe, order a steaming glass of mint tea, and watch locals wearing djellaba robes go about their each day life. Soak all of it in — the entire Moroccan expertise.
In the event you’re a cat particular person like me, you’re going to like Chefchaouen. It’s a cat metropolis for positive — a bit like Istanbul. Locals feed them, nevertheless they often stay exterior on the street as strays.
You’ll discover cats in alleys, cats on the steps, and cats within the souks. Cats might be roaming via eating places and on terraces. They’re hiding in timber and bushes, and stretched out on sidewalks.
If you wish to get a cat’s consideration in Morocco, strive hissing. It’s a good way to get them to pose for pictures! Meow.
Be certain that to go to the massive 15th century Kasbah fortress and dungeon situated in Chefchaouen’s major sq. — Place Outa el Hammam. It’s fairly straightforward to search out this red-walled construction amongst all of the blue buildings.
Inbuilt 1471 by Mulay Ali Ben Mussa Ben Rached, the Kasbah options a good looking backyard and small ethnographic museum. Climb the towers inside for some nice views of the town and the Grand Mosque.
The Kasbah was constructed within the Andalusian-Maghrebian model to defend Chefchaouen from assaults by the Portuguese and Spanish. Entry solely prices €1 Euro! It’s completely value a fast go to.
“Riad” comes from the Arabic phrase for “backyard”, and it’s referring to the area within the centre of those conventional Moroccan guest-houses, open to the sky, normally with a water fountain.
Most rooms in a riad level inwards in the direction of this area, the symbolic coronary heart of the house – and whenever you open your door very first thing within the morning to search out daylight streaming down into the constructing.
The distant noises of Morocco will filter down via the opening within the ceiling. You’ll hear motion, the clank of morning tea being ready, the Arabic name to prayer, and the rhythms of life exterior. It’s all extraordinarily stress-free.
There’s an previous Spanish Mosque perched on a hilltop overlooking the blue metropolis, constructed by the Spanish within the 1920’s. The mile-long hike passes by prickly pear and agave cacti — with fantastic views of Chefchaouen on the prime.
As a result of the mosque is type of deserted, non-muslims are allowed to go inside and have a look. Be certain that to convey water although, as a result of on a sunny day it will get scorching up there.
The path to the mosque crosses the Ras el’Ma river, the place you’ll see native ladies doing laundry the normal manner in chilly mountain water. The hike up takes about 45 minutes one-way.
With a cleansing ritual that hasn’t modified for hundreds of years, a visit to the hammam will go away you steamed, sweated, pummelled and scrubbed till you’re feeling like each inch of your pores and skin has been upgraded.
The principle public hammam is throughout the sq. from the primary mosque, Jama’a Kabir, and there are completely different attendance instances for women and men.
Additionally, you will should buy groceries first to your personal plastic sandals, cleaning soap, bathe scrub and towel. The hammam expertise is an integral a part of life in Morocco!
The blue metropolis of Chefchaouen has a protracted historical past of hippie-culture and the manufacturing of cannabis — probably the most fundamental and conventional type of marijuana THC focus. Morocco is the world’s top supplier.
You is perhaps provided a farm tour, the place they drive you exterior the town to the marijuana fields and show how they produce hash from kif, THC crystals extracted from the plant.
Simply be cautious… it’s unlawful to supply, commerce, and smoke hash in Morocco, even in a spot like Chefchaouen. All the time do not forget that in case you’re noticed, you can get arrested. Or blackmailed by the police for cash.
Cascades d’Akchour is a path that results in a pair of waterfalls within the Rif Mountains. You’ll want a taxi to get to the trailhead, and durable sneakers for this 2-Three hour hike.
The path is filled with lush inexperienced vegetation, an attention-grabbing pure stone bridge referred to as “God’s Bridge”, and a good looking swimming gap with a waterfall as your reward on the finish.
You’ll discover makeshift “cafes” alongside the way in which, which serve Moroccan meals and tea throughout this lengthy, and considerably steep hike. It’s good, however just a little touristy.
One of many prime causes anybody ought to journey to Morocco is the wonderful meals, and you’ll find all of your favorites within the Blue Metropolis. Stuff your self on kefta (lamb meatballs), tajines (sluggish cooked stews in clay pots) and mountains of couscous.
Oranges and orange juice is a giant deal in Morocco — and tremendous scrumptious. A freshly squeezed glass will solely set you again about four Dirhams ($0.40 USD). I couldn’t get sufficient!
Scorching mint tea in Morocco is an indication of hospitality, friendship and custom. It’s one of the vital scrumptious treats you’ll discover in the entire nation, with a wealthy taste you’ll wrestle to search out elsewhere.
Chefchaouen is constructed on the sting of the Rif mountain vary within the far north – and the one manner there’s by street, winding up a rocky panorama that’s surprisingly lush and inexperienced in the summertime.
RentalCars.com searches all the massive automotive rental firms and finds the very best worth. That is in all probability the simplest approach to hire a automotive in Morocco.
Driving in Morocco is usually a bit loopy typically, but it surely’s a comparatively easy journey of 115 km (about 2 hours of driving) from Tangier. I like to recommend utilizing a parking storage, then discover the old-city on foot.
The most cost effective approach to get to Chfchaouen is by bus. There are a number of buses per day from cities like Fez, Tetouan, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier and Ceuta. The principle bus firm for vacationers is CTM.
From Tangier, go to Gate Routiere (Place Al Jamia Al Arabia) and search for the subsequent bus – there’s normally no less than two operating per day, with one departing at midday. The fare to Chefchaouen is 45 Dirham ($5 USD).
Morocco is filled with unauthorized or semi-legit taxis pushed by individuals who have one purpose in life: to get as a lot cash out of vacationers as attainable.
The usual worth of a one-way journey in a non-public taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen ought to be within the vary of 300 – 500 Dirhams ($31 – $52 USD).
Take the evening practice from Marrakesh to Tangier, then proceed to Chefchaouen by bus or taxi. The practice leaves Marrakesh at 9:00 pm and arrives in Tangier at 7:25 am. There are sleeper cabins out there.
There are many resorts in Chefchaouen, however you’re lacking out in case you don’t keep in a conventional Moroccan riad. It’s like a mixture between a non-public townhouse, a resort, and a European “mattress & breakfast”. We stayed at Riad Assilah Chaouen — and cherished it.
In the event you’re questioning the place to remain in Chefchaouen, Morocco, listed here are my suggestions:
This can be a metropolis designed to cease you in your tracks for all the appropriate causes. No matter is occurring in your life, particularly in case you’re feeling weary of journey, Chefchaouen needs you to place your toes up, drink mint tea and take it deliciously straightforward.
Then, whenever you’re prepared, you’ll be able to go for a stroll throughout the historic metropolis partitions, and let the medina work its soothing magic upon you. In a rustic identified for being a bit chaotic, the blue metropolis of Chefchaouen is a nice oasis. ★
Any questions on visiting Chefchaouen? Have you ever heard of this blue metropolis? Drop me a message within the feedback beneath!
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