Chefchaouen is known to be one of the most peaceful and safest places in Morocco. Nestled in the Rif Mountains the city attracts all types of travelers. Let us take a look at what it is that attracts everyone to this city.
Chefchaouen is a gorgeous city in northeastern Morocco. It is the main city of the province with the same name. It was founded by the Moorish exiles from Spain in 1492 and lies near the Rif Mountains. It is a relaxed city with affordable accommodation.
The finest part would be the look of the city with most of the buildings painted brilliant sky blue. The clear mountain light that falls on the city gives it a magical touch. The humble town and the picturesque medina with a splendid backdrop of the Rif Mountains make it truly stunning.
Though it known as the largest producer of marijuana and few tourists do come for the reason, it is not the main reason to visit the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen.
About the city
It is a small fortress town that was formerly used by Chefchaouen to fight off the Portuguese entering Morocco. Chefchaouen is also referred as Chaouen by the Moroccans and derives its name from the towering mountain tops that tower over the town and look like two horns of a goat.
The call to prayer that rings out from the mosques around the town is a very blissful experience. The word literally means look at the horns. It is in close proximity to Tangier and the Spanish border. Spanish language is widely spoken here. You can find most of the houses colored nice sky blue and it comes from the tradition started by former Jewish population. The Berber rebel leader Abdel Karim ruled the city from 1921 to 1926.
He was defeated in 1926 by the Spanish troops and was imprisoned in the Kasbah. Spain ruled over the city for thirty year after which it was handed over to Morocco.
The city is known for the variety of products made locally. You may find a variety of hand made crafts that would not be found elsewhere in Morocco. It is a popular shopping destination for Moroccans and tourist alike.
You can find a variety of woven blankets and woolen garments in such vivid colors that you would really love to buy a few. The city is also known for the exceptional goat cheese available here. You can also buy carpets, leather ware, spices, metal ware etc.
You may even have your self designed leather purse or such items made from the leather artisans in the market.
There is not much agriculture as the land is not very good quality. However it has grown an ill repute for the production of a number of illegal drugs. It is a major producer of marijuana, cannabis and Hashish. However, be careful that you do not fall for the persistent requests of touts, as it is completely illegal and punishable.
What to do
The medina is the major attraction for most and it feels amazing to walk around the town with whitewashed walls. You would also find it very interesting to visit the waterfall to the east of the medina.
You can find many local residents around here who come in to chat, cool off and do their laundry. You can catch a quick trip to the ruins of an old mosque that stands on a hill behind the waterfall.
Hiking to the scenic Rif mountains is a must and is visited often by backpackers. You would find the hike up Jebel al-Kalaa a strenuous one. But for those who lover adventure this 9 hour round trip can be fun.
Eat, drink and sleep
The local specialty is the baissara. You would also like the staple tajines (vegetable stew with goat and sheep) and fish tagras. You can visity Granada or Chez Chouen that offer you great fish and shrimp tajine which have a Spanish flavor more than the Moroccan one, but are really great. You would also find mint tea everywhere and it can be really nice.
Alcohol though is not readily available. For accommodation there are many options and the biggest rush is during the months of July and September. There are cheap hotels also available and you can even find it interesting to use some hotels offering roof terraces (which are popular with backpackers).
You can plan you trip well in advance and enjoy the safest and one of the most beautiful city with its serene settings for a few days before you move ahead to other beautiful cities like Tangier, Fez, Marakkech.