A pleasing blend of Moroccan and Andalusian influences, the Blue City of Chefchaouen is nestled in the Rif Mountains about two hours south of Tangier. Named for the brilliant hue adorning most of its buildings (originally chosen by Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition), the Blue City is undeniably one of the country’s prettiest. After a long van ride, we had a guided visit to the medina, a hike up to the Ras el-Maa waterfall, a traditional Moroccan lunch at Casa Hassan and time to explore the city on our own and do some shopping in the Kasbah and the souk – much calmer and less crowded than those in larger cities.
“The word magical is fairly overused today, but if there’s a place that truly epitomizes the mystical adjective it’s Chefchaouen, in the northwest of Morocco. It’s a destination known by many — especially Instagram and Pinterest addicts — as simply the ‘Blue City,’ and it’s perched amid the Rif Mountains, creating a dramatic landscape on approach and an ethereal atmosphere when you’re in it.
“The Berber city was founded in 1471 with the construction of its walled casbah and fortress (defense against the Portuguese). Many Jews settled in medieval times, and the Spanish conquered it in the early 20th century, giving it a Spanish inflection that remains, although it’s back under the purview of Morocco now. It’s small, but Chefchaouen is by no means undiscovered. And with the proliferation of social media, its visibility is only going to rise…
“It’s called the Blue City, but Chefchaouen could more accurately be called the 50 Shades of Blue City, as it’s full of so many variations on a theme. Powder blue, cyan, robin’s-egg, indigo, cobalt, azure, periwinkle — it’s painted in an endless array of shades that make it feel truly alive. The reason for the photogenic and people-pleasing palette is up for debate: Some believe it was the Jews who painted it in their religion’s divine color (which represents the color of the sea and sky) after escaping Europe, while others chalk it up to blue acting as a mosquito repellent. Regardless of the reasons, the hues are subject to change as the sun moves across the sky.” – November 19, 2017, by Kathryn Romeyn, Vogue on http://www.vogue.com
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