Morocco’s a great winter destination. The northerly city of Chefchaouen, or Chaouen to its residents, is easily reached from Tangier, Tetouan or Fes. Located in the heart of the Rif Mountains, its colourful homes and businesses straggle up a sloping site. Here’s why you should add it to your Morocco trip.
It’s one of the most photogenic cities in Morocco
Many of Chefchaouen’s buildings have one thing in common: they are painted a vivid shade of blue. From bold ultramarines to jewel-like turquoise, the overall effect is a powerfully vibrant one. Steps, doorways and walls – they’ve all seen the painter’s brush. Everywhere you turn in the characterful old town is an Instagrammer’s delight, with enviably pretty backdrops perfect for sharing on social media. And why is it blue? Several theories exist, one that the colour wards off mosquitoes and another that Jews painted the town blue in the 1930s. Cynics, however, say the colour attracts tourists and it’s hard to disagree with them.
It’s home to an imposing centuries-old Kasbah
Chefchaouen’s Kasbah was constructed in the 15th century. Its warm earthy tones are a welcome contrast to the blues of the old town. Pass through the gate in its crenellated walls to enter a shady garden modelled on those in distant Andalusia. Inside, its rooms house exhibits recounting the town’s history in Spanish and Arabic. Climb the steps of the Portuguese Tower, named after those prisoners who toiled to build it. The view from the top over the medina and the surrounding hillsides is breathtaking.
Its sunny climate lends itself to people watching
Pavement cafés crowd Place Outa el Hammam overlooking the Kasbah. Sightseers weary from pounding the cobbled alleyways sink into comfortable seats overlooking this bustling square to drink mint tea and sip freshly squeezed orange juice. This is the place to be seen, but also the place to watch the world go by. Sunshine is abundant here, with winter temperatures rarely falling below 14 or 15°C.
Hike to a nearby waterfall
Ras El Maa supplies Chefchaouen’s water and you’ll find local women doing the laundry if you time your visit right. This isn’t a tall waterfall by any stretch of the imagination but it is located in a pretty setting and makes an interesting diversion. Follow the path upwards from the north eastern gate of the medina and you should find the waterfall without too much difficulty.
Shop until you drop
The many boutiques that litter the medina will put a smile on the face of any shopper. Haggling is expected. However, bear in mind how cheap the merchandise is before bargaining too hard. Leather bags and shoes are a good buy, as are textiles. Woven blankets make good souvenirs and a hooded djellaba will remind you of those you’ve seen along the way. Locals also make lanterns, lamps and other metalwork items for sale. Several stores sell medicinal herbs but make sure you don’t unwittingly buy hashish which is easy to come by in the town but illegal to possess.
Why not add a day or longer in Chefchaouen to your Morocco trip. Why not give Mundana a call and see what the latest deals are to this fascinating city?