Chefchaouen city is among the most stunning in all of Morocco because to its crystal-clear air, white homes, and blue roofs. Because of this, many painters and artists find it to be an alluring place.Chaouen, Xauen or Chefchaouen, popularly called […]
Chefchaouen city is among the most stunning in all of Morocco because to its crystal-clear air, white homes, and blue roofs. Because of this, many painters and artists find it to be an alluring place.Chaouen, Xauen or Chefchaouen, popularly called the ‘blue village of Morocco’ or ‘The pearl of the north’, is a city of captivating beauty, to which contributes its architecture of popular Mediterranean design, with the blue and indigo of its hundred-year-old doors and the white shattered walls, these covered with layers and layers and more layers of lime.
The people of Chaouen paint the walls and floors of the houses several times a year, and even paint the floor of the streets (many of them in the form of irregular staircases), coinciding with the changes of season and the annual celebrations. This almost obsessive work, whose aim is to purify, sanitize, provide freshness and scare away insects, has forged the uniqueness of the population.
Brushes tied to broomsticks as an extension of the arms are used to paint the highest areas, but where they do not reach they maintain their yellow and reddish ocher colors. As the layers of paint are not given the same day, the inhabitants of Chaouen achieve without wanting it a variety of shades of white, blue and sparkled surprising. To the point that a group of neighbors has emerged that ensures that houses and streets are painted with the traditional tones of the city.
Chaouen has been the inspiration for many painters such as Eugéne Delacroix, Maria Fortuny and Henri Matisse. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco and also one of the most photogenic. One of the biggest draws for travelers are the images of Chaouen. One of the biggest draws for travelers are the images of Chefchaouen.. In almost every corner we will find the opportunity to get a beautiful photograph of the blue village.
The city centre is Uta al-Hammam Square, where the Alcazaba and a mosque with an octagonal base tower are located. Another emblematic point of the city is the Mosque of the Andalusians. The new city has been built below the old city.
The best way to get to Chefchaouen is from the nearby town of Ceuta, located just over 100 kilometers to the north. And the best time to do so is in the spring or autumn months.
According to legend, Zhora, a Vejer de la Frontera girl, was Mulay Al-ben Rachid’s true love back when Spain was still a Muslim country. When the Christians expelled them from the Peninsula, they emigrated to Morocco and there, to alleviate the longing that his beloved had of his people, the emir built one to his image and likeness:
Chaouen, or Chefchaouen, as it is also known. We are facing a charming little town of about 40,000 inhabitants that is located about 100 km from Ceuta, on the slopes of the Tisouka mountains (2050m) and Megou (1616 m), of the Rif Mountain Range, which rise above the village like two horns, giving the city its name (Chefchaouen in Berber means ‘look at the horns’). At an altitude of 660 m and with very little traffic, you breathe a clean and fresh air that invites you to stay a few days to discover the beauty of the place and its environment.
Medina of Chaouen
On the location of a minor Berber settlement, Moulay Ali Ben Rachid constructed Chaouen in 1741. Considered a holy city, thanks to the surrounding mountains, it remained protected against foreign incursions and prospered thanks to the arrival of Muslim refugees from Spain.
Its original population was composed mainly of exiles from Al-Andalus, both Muslim and Jewish, reason why the old part of the city has a very similar appearance to that of the Andalusian villages, with small streets of irregular layout and whitewashed houses (often in blue tones). Its native inhabitants generally also resemble more the inhabitants on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar than most North Africans. Xauen is built on a small valley. Ras al-Ma springs are located at the summit of the mountain, where the oldest section of the city is growing.
Chaouen was for centuries a city considered sacred, where foreigners were forbidden entry. For this reason it has remained with few alterations all its medieval appearance. Changes in the urban and population structure of Chaouen are very recent. It was the Spanish troops that opened this city by taking control of the entire northern area of Morocco to establish the Protectorate granted by the Conference of Algeciras (1906) and defined by the Spanish-French treaty of 1912
Alcohol is not easily found as it is a religious city but in some places it is served. The most typical drink, as in other parts of Morocco, is mint tea (7 Dh about the glass).
Although Chaouen has very good water, coming directly from the mountain, it is advisable for tourists to avoid drinking tap water throughout Morocco, for safety reasons, since not being accustomed you can have some indisposition. It is best to drink bottled water (6 Dh approx 1 l bottle) or soft drinks (9 Dh approx 1.5 l of Coca-Cola). Even in restaurants, never spend more than 10–20 Dh for a bottle.
Hassan II Avenue is the main artery of the modern city, which extends without passing through the Medina. In one of its ends is Mohammed V, place that by its architecture reminds us of the Spanish Protectorate. At this place the market is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the other end, we find Bab el Ain, the main entrance to the old city.
Many of the sights to see in Chaouen and northern Morocco are in the medina of this city. It is a good place to get lost without feeling overwhelmed as in larger cities, such as Fez or Marrakech.More than half of the residences are located there, and it is a tranquil area. Around its narrow streets is the souk, formed by all the craft shops, in which the traveler can observe the looms with which artisans work and haggle to get a carpet at a good price. Its many craft, leather, spice and other shops make the walk a feast for all the senses.
The wide variety of colors of the different products of the shops and bazaars contrast with the dazzling bluish white of the houses. The mix of unknown voices and sounds will guide you through the winding streets until you inevitably reach the meeting and resting point, Uta el-Hammam Square.
When the Spanish arrived, the city had an important Sephardic Jewish population that spoke Judeo-Spanish. Chaouen was one of the main bases of the Spanish army and in this city the last Spanish flag was lowered in 1956. As in other cities that belonged to the Spanish Protectorate, much of its inhabitants can speak Spanish. Xauen was under the control of the Republic of the Rif and in it another disaster of the Spanish troops was about to occur when withdrawing, due to the great offensive of the Army of the Rif. Chaouen is now a major tourist centre, attracting immigrants from other parts of Morocco, mainly from the south.
The tourist vocation of the province makes the craft sector one of the main economic and social development sectors. This craft sector is a cultural and artistic heritage whose authenticity, value and originality are preserved from generation to generation
Chefchaouen is a mainly religious city, it is considered a holy city in Morocco. It has a strong spiritual tradition: dozens of oratories and mosques, and even the Zawiya Mausoleum, earned it the name of the Saliha El Madin, ‘the Holy City’. The Great Mosque of Chefchaouen, The Masjid Aadam, was built in 1471, 969 Hegira, by the founder of the city Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami.
The town of Chefchaouen is located 600 meters above sea level. It has three varieties of climate: The mountain area has a typically Mediterranean climate, rainy and cold in winter and mild summer. Rain is the most important and varies between 800 and 1 400 mm / year in some cases, 2 000 mm / year with snow. A semi-arid climate that dominates the coastal area, with a rainfall of 300 to 400 mm / year. The southern area is characterized by a humid climate in winter and dry summer, with rainfall ranging from 900 to 1 300 mm / year.
Chefchaouen: How to get there
Chefchaouen is a beautiful city in Morocco, known for its blue-painted buildings and scenic mountain surroundings. There are several ways to get to Chefchaouen, depending on your starting point and preferences. Here are some options:
By plane: The nearest airport to Chefchaouen is Tangier Ibn Battouta Airport (TNG), located about 128 km (80 miles) away. From there, you can take a taxi or a bus to Chefchaouen. You can also fly to Fes or Casablanca airports and take a bus or taxi to Chefchaouen.
By bus: There are regular bus services from major cities in Morocco to Chefchaouen, such as Fes, Tangier, and Casablanca. CTM and Supratours are two reputable bus companies that operate on this route.
By taxi: You can hire a private taxi from Fes, Tangier, or Casablanca to Chefchaouen. Negotiate the fare beforehand, as taxi drivers may try to charge you more than the actual price.
By car: If you have a rental car or are planning to drive to Chefchaouen, take the N2 road from Tangier or the N13 road from Fes.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to plan your trip ahead of time and check for any travel restrictions or entry requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The kasbah, which once protected the city from the Berbers, hides within its crenellated wall a pleasant and quiet Andalusian garden. At the bottom of the Tower are the old prison cells where Abd el Krim was imprisoned in 1926. On its left is the ethnographic museum, one of the most interesting places to visit in Chaouen: in Morocco, few museums house such a rich collection of ancient weapons, with an art gallery, the Rif guard house, regional costumes and musical instruments, etc.
A few steps ahead is Makhzen Square, with the Parador Hotel and the public parking, from where you can take an alley leading to Bab el-Ansar and the fountain Ras el-Maa, one of the most nice places in chefChaouen. Under the relaxing sound of the water you can go down to the side of the creek, see how women do the laundry and how the hydraulic mills still work. This beautiful road takes us to the Rif Sebbanin, the neighborhood of the washhouses, with the Sebbanin Square and its 15th century mosque.
Also very attractive to the visitor is Ras el Maa (“source of water”), a stream that arises from limestone rock. This water course, as is typical in the Andalusian culture, is wisely used for various activities: grain milling, washing and irrigation ditches. So in a short tour we can see the washhouses (where women are grouped to wash, especially on weekends), the water mills that still grind cereal and chickpeas, and the irrigation ditches that irrigate the small orchards on the bank.
To avoid risks and play it safe, we recommend here the best options to eat in Chaouen:
Ruined mosque (now restored). Located 2 kilometers from the eastern entrance of the medina, a visit to this ruined mosque is a good option to download couscous and pastries. The mosque, abandoned in 1920 during the Rif war, has unbeatable views of Chaouen.
Rif Mountain Range. But if visiting the mosque is not enough, be quiet. The Rif mountain range offers an incredible landscape that makes a walk become irresistible. With its valleys, mountains and forests, it is an ideal place to spend a day, or at least leave the cafes and terraces of Xauen for a couple of hours. The area also has a particularity: the cultivation of quif occupies more than three quarters of the arable area. Chefchaouen is not dangerous, especially if you travel with a guide. We will provide it.
Laoud Route. Follow the local route north from Dar Acoba and pass through the Ali Thela swamp. Continuing north along the river Laoud goes one of the most beautiful places of Chefchauen: its waterfalls. Reaching Beni Said, home to the renowned Sebt souk, and the beach town of Oued Laud in the province of Tetouan requires an amazing leap of the same name that follows the valley between the communes of Oulad Ali Mansour and Tizganne.
From this route, once past the Ali Thela swamp and before reaching the Laoud Falls, the route that leads to Talambot and Akchour leaves towards the east. The area is a natural monument with pine forests, mountain rivers, natural pools… To highlight is the gorge of the river Farda, with the bridge of God, a natural arch of 35 meters high, and nearby, another favorite corner for tourists Chefchaouen: the waterfalls of Oued Kelaa, an ideal starting point for hiking trails to the Talasemart National Park.
Here are some cafes where you can eat and rent rooms to sleep. There is also a mountain hostel. It is advisable, when arriving in Akchour, to get a local guide to show you the area. You know: if you need help, get in touch with Morocco travel land. We are experts in Chaouen!Share this tour