Chefchaouen, the best city to live the Moroccan dream
Chefchaouen is a small and charming town located in the outskirts of the mountains Tisouka (2050m) and Megou (1616 ms) of the Mountain range of the Rif. The town immediately attracts the attention of the traveler for its range of blue tones that intermingle in a relaxing and photogenic combination. It is a small paradise on earth that invites you to take a short break to breathe fresh air or get lost in its narrow streets. The term “chefchaouen” in Berber means “watch the horns” therefore the city owns its name to the location, the foothills of the mountains Tisouka and Megou, which rise above the town like two horns, giving the city such a curious name.
Places to see in Chefchaouen
The medina is relatively quiet, uncrowded and easy to explore. We recommended to take a walk at your own pace and let yourself be carried away by the senses. There are a great variety of colors from different products from the bazaars that contrast with the overwhelming bluish painted houses. The mixture of voices and sounds will guide you through the side streets until you inevitably arrive at the Uta el-Hammam square.
If you encounter any gap, you can rest in the shade of the mulberry tree drinking typical Berber tea in one of the many cafes or restaurants of the square. It is always vivid and full of people and is the meeting point of both locals and foreigners. As walking through the square you will see the Great Octagonal Mosque, only open to Muslims, and the famous Kasbah.
When talking about Chefchaouen, we have to mention The Alcazaba. It was built by the founder of the city Moulay Ali ibn Rachid in 1471. Upon crossing its doors we find the gardens of the Kasbah full of palm trees and the towers with a magnificent view of the city. The trip cannot be complete without a visit to an ethnographic museum where we will find a modest collection of ancient weapons, textile instruments and historical photos of the city. There is also a small art gallery that is worth a stop.
The Medina and the surroundings of the Uta el-Hamman square represent the heart of shopping in Chefchaouen. The massive influx of tourists, both national and foreign, has livened up the local industry that is nourished by products from the area and the best crafts of the country. Next to the square you will find one of the most important craft center. Prepare yourself before haggling!
Chefchaouen used to be a holy city that was not allowed to enter by Christians and foreigners. With the entry of Spanish troops in 1920 it opened to the outside but always with a look of distrust towards the outsider. In general people are friendly and tend to help you when you need it but do not forget that they are mostly merchants and sometimes their kindness is purely commercial. Even though speaking with the locals is positive and enriches the visitor’s experience. The majority speak Spanish and English so it is easy to have a fluent conversation with them.
Crafts in Chefchaouen
In local shops and bazaars we will find a great variety of furniture such as doors, tables and other carved and decorated furniture. You can also see works made on metal, wood and leather. The typical pottery of the area comes from the region of Oued Laud, and is made of very primitive clay. Also there is a Safi ceramics considered more attractive and cheaper, and the one with the best design from the city of Fez, although more expensive. Chefchaouen is an excellent place to shop for natural soaps and cosmetics for the skin and hair. The most typical are the Azmizcle, the Ghassoul, oils and creams of Nopal and Nigella and argan, lavender, aloe vera or figs soaps.
Customs in Chefchaouen
On Monday or Thursday we recommend visiting the lower part of the city know as the new town to see the market where local citizens sell their products dressed with their traditional clothes.
Another scene worth seeing that repeats every morning is the meeting of the women to wash clothes next to the source of Ras-el-Mâa. The soothing sound of the water contrasts with their lively conversations while doing the laundry.
One of the customs of the locals that we recommend is to climb up to the Jemaa Bouzafar mosque to watch the sunset. Undoubtedly, it makes the effort worth it.
Take advantage of your stay in Morocco and visit this wonderful city on a getaway tailored especially for you. Last June, our collaborator inaugurated an itinerant exhibition entitled “Checfchauen. The blue city of Morocco.” The exhibition is a selection of thirty photographs from his book of the same title as the exhibition. Carlos will visit several Spanish and Portuguese cities over the next two years, you can access the exhibition calendar on the project page.