views of Chefchaouen from one of the mountains
Chefchaouen is starting to be one of the most touristic villages in the north of Morocco. That does not impress me at all. Chefchaouen is a magical and charming city situated in the Rif mountains. The meaning of Chefchaouen is “horns” because of the two mountains that the city has behind.
If you look at images from Chefchaouen you will be charmed with the color! The medina (which is the old town) is fully painted in blue, tradition that still maintained. Every two months or depending on how much it rains, women for the neighborhood get together at night and paint the walls of their houses and the streets. They use “cal”, which is a type of mineral (dangerous to prepare!) mixed with “nila” which is the blue powder you can see in the shops. Depending on the tone of blue they want, they put more or less nila. This tradition is was found by the jews and it is said that cal is natural insect repellent. Every corner of Chefchaouen is a magic spot to take a picture or just to fascinate your eyes!
beautiful blues. picture by @berbersoul
This city is well known by leather and wood handcraft, walking the streets you will find plenty of “talleres” where they made handbags, bags, bracelets, neckless, phone covers, shoes, sandals, lamps… variety of colors and designs, cow leather, goat leather… rugs made of the most beautiful wood colors, textures and decorations.
If you have been there or you are thinking on visiting Chefchaouen, the Main Square – Uta Hammam- is the first place you should go, I love to seat in the bench opposite to all the restaurants and just look at people walking by, locals and tourists, it doesn’t matter, its is a fun way to spend a few minutes getting involved with the ambience and the atmosphere. In this same square there is the Kasbah, old fort rebuilt that has a museum and a beautiful garden inside, you can go up to one of the towers, where you can take very nice pictures. Next to the Kasbah there is the Great Mosque of Chefchaouen,built during the 16th century, it is forbidden to enter if you are not a muslim.
The “Spanish mosque” or “Portuguese mosque” is another must in your visit! This is a mosque situated outside the medina, on your way, you will pass Ras El Maa (meaning, head (ras) of the water (el maa)), basically this is where the river passes by, if you go during the day and not a market day (Monday or Thursday) you will find the women cleaning rugs and doing their laundry and children having fun in the water (which is really cold!), there are a few coffee places where I highly recommend a “panache” which is a smoothie with all the fruits they have, or a fresh delicious orange juice “acer limun” or of course, the whisky berber: mint tea! NOTE: be careful with the bees! they absolutely looooove these three drinks! I usually had “fun” counting how many bees (they are not yellow jackets, which is good) can get in my glass of tea, onces you have enough tea (or the bees are annoying you too much) leave the glass in front of you with a little bit of tea, I counted 15 bees onces, they drank the tea in 5 mins!
Ras El Maa and the beginning of the way to the Mosquee
From Ras El Maa you can see up the the hill a white small mosque with a beautiful viewpoint. To get there you have to cross the bridge and find some stairs that go up (if not ask some local, they are really nice and will help you to find the way, be careful, they may want to go with you too! Make sure, you clarify them if you want them to go or not) there is only one path to get to the Spanish Mosquee so, do not worry, you won’t get lost! If you do this walk before sunset and spend the sunset up there you will have spectacular colors!
More tips and places to visit in Morocco will be coming soon!