Photo Series: Blue City of Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen, 2 Years Travelling

Chefchaouen, the blue city. You’re bound to have seen photos of visitors from here sitting on steps of blue, in a blue street, surrounded by … well, blue! Situated in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco, this quiet city is a visual delight. Whereas in most big tourist destinations there are big landmark sights to visit, in Chefchaouen the entire medina (old town) is the attraction. Here you can wander the narrow blue streets and alleys that wind their way up the city’s hillside and that’s plenty.

Arriving at the bus station from Tangier, the ratio of tourists to taxis meant that I hopped in what was certainly not a taxi to get to the medina. Despite its sketchiness, I was taken to a gate in the city walls where I would start my climb through the steep maze of streets. Even with a map on my phone and some signposts to my guesthouse, I was soon lost. Thankfully a local carpet store owner was able to point me in the right direction (for free!) and I reached my guesthouse exhausted from lugging my pack up so many, many stairs.

Making my way further up the medina
Making my way further up the medina
Finding my way up mostly empty streets and more stairs
Finding my way up mostly empty streets and more stairs
The epic view of Chefchaouen from the terrace of my guesthouse
The epic view of Chefchaouen from the terrace of my guesthouse

 

You may be asking, why is the city painted blue? Historically, the city had a large jewish population who adapted a religious practice of dying thread and instead chose to paint their houses and in turn streets. I realise that isn’t a particularly detailed answer, but that’s as good an answer as I could get from the locals I asked. It’s probably best to avoid the whys and simply enjoy its splendour.

Walking and exploring the medina I found that all but the main streets were practically devoid of people. The main streets had restaurants and stores, but everywhere else was residential and so during the day they were extremely quiet. This means that photo opportunities abound. Being one giant blue labyrinth, you’re bound to get lost and get exhausted walking up and down all over the place, but you may also uncover corners you’ve yet to see. That really is the fun of a place like Chefchaouen.

Heading off to explore the streets
Heading off to explore the streets
One of the brightly iconic streets of Chefchaouen
One of the brightly iconic streets
So many fascinating streets that are surprisingly empty
So many fascinating streets that are surprisingly empty
Local woman returning from outside the medina walls
Local woman returning from outside the medina walls

Outside the medina, you’ll find a seriously different city. While not overly modern, the city is buzzing with people coming and going to cafes or the market. You won’t be able to spot many tourists as they tend to keep to the medina. If you head to the east of the city, you’ll find a river and further up a waterfall with local women washing clothes, which is actually popular with tourists.

While I didn’t have time to on my short stay, I’ve read there is the possibility to go hiking up in the mountains above town either independently or with a tour. It is worth noting that hiking up there will take you through marijuana plantations, something for which the region is quite well known. What do I know firsthand is that you’re bound to have people try and sell you hashish, which in Chefchaouen seems to take the place of the usual tout harassment. I don’t say this to dissuade people going to Chefchaouen – it’s perfectly safe – just to inform you.

Uta El Hamam Square with a lot of restaurants nearby
Uta El Hamam Square with a lot of tourist restaurants nearby
Quiet residential street dead end
Quiet residential street dead end
More peaceful streets
More peaceful streets. Where am I?
Fountain on the medina streets
Fountain on the medina streets

 

All in all, Chefchaouen is a complex place, but a definite visual treat. You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else like this and it’s a place you’re bound not to forget. Oh and think of the Instagram / Facebook profile pic opportunities!

 


 

Have you been to Chefchaouen? What was your experience like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Why Not Pin It for Later

Chefchaouen

 

12 Comment

  1. This is a seriously beautiful town isn’t it – the blue really is striking and it looks such a wonderful place to visit! I like that there isn’t a hard explanation for the blue, “don’t ask, just enjoy” type thing – brilliant!

    1. David says:

      It certainly is Angie. It’s nice to visit a place where you just need to walk around and take it in. As you said, it doesn’t matter why it is the way it is too much. It’s also great that you see it in pictures and you underestimate how big and how blue it really is.

  2. Lisa says:

    How stunning! The explanation makes perfect sense, the thread on a tallit is dyed blue (biblical instruction)! Would love to visit.

    1. David says:

      Maybe one day Lisa! I’m glad the explanation makes sense, I always worry a little about stating “facts” when I’m not totally certain. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Garth says:

    Wow, seriously. I’ve seen many pictures of this place, but never really known much about about or where it was, thanks for all the info really interesting! Your photos are great! as you say without people you can’t really go wrong when you have something so visual as all that blue infront of you! I love the shot of the stairs and the small silhouetted dog, and all the contrasting coloured potted plants on that wall. So Chefchaouen is another place for our never ending bucket list!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Garth, glad I could help add one more to the list. And yeh I love that photo too, cheers!

  4. What a amazing place to visit and the pictures are just fantastic. What a great photo opportunity with the stairs free of people and you can walk around and shoot pictures. I like the tiny bit of information you received on the history of the city and its blue color, I agree it was best to go with what you had. I would just get lost in a sea of pictures there. Thank you for sharing this amazing city! Add this one to my already long bucket list. 🙂

    1. David says:

      Thank you very much Stephanie, glad you enjoyed looking through them. Yes, during the day most of the people are out of the medina either at work or school, so it’s perfect for exploring and taking photos. I certainly took a lot!

  5. Jenn says:

    This is amazing! While blue is not my favorite color (pink is), I find that some of the most beautiful travel photos always have fantastic shades of blue in them. This certainly is no exception!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Jenn! I agree, a hint of blue can sometimes really add to a photo, even if it’s just something simple like the sea.

  6. Great shots! And what an interesting place. One of the things I like most about travel blogs – the same as my love for National Geographic – is “discovering” places that I might not ever have an opportunity to visit. I had seen a few pictures of “the Blue City,” but never knew much about it. So thanks for the introduction! Hopefully, I will have a chance to visit; until then, I have a new place to read up on! -Rob.

    1. David says:

      Thank you Rob, glad I could help you find a new place to visit. I love “discovering” places too and the aim of this blog is very much about finding different and new places to explore and sharing them.

Comments are closed.