Chefchaouen – the Blue City of Morocco

Washed in shades of blue, the mountain village of Chefchaouen is a meditation on the divine. In Jewish tradition, blue is the color of the divine.The village was founded in 1471 by Jews and Muslims fleeing the Spanish Reconquest. Jews also fled here prior to World War II but most left upon the founding of Israel in 1948.

Chefchaouen is tucked into the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco,  3-4 hours from Fez (5-6 hours from Casablanca) by private transfer. For decades, a certain type of traveler has been attracted to the area for its cannabis, which is cultivated in the fields surrounding the village. When visiting Chefchaouen, chances are good you’ll be approached by a seller of this local crop, known as kif. Even if you are so inclined, we strongly advise not purchasing any cannabis product. It is illegal in Morocco.

The town is more than charming enough without chemical enhancement. Despite being quite touristy, it’s also, somehow, laid back. The medina is full of appeal, a compact maze of narrow lanes framed by crisp blue and white Andalusian architecture, and more manageable than those of Fez and Marrakesh. You’ll find good shopping for unique, local handicrafts, especially wool products. In the center of the medina, the main city square Place Uta el Hammam is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, the Grand Mosque and a 15th-century kasbah, which contains the museum.

The mountains offer a range of hikes, from short walks to multi-day treks, with  trail-heads right outside the medina walls.

We recommend staying for a couple of days, to just hang, wander and enjoy the gentle pace of a mountain village – albeit one whose prosperity rests very largely on tourism.

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