A blue city on the blue planet. That’s what Chefchaouen looks like in Morocco. And it’s been more than five centuries that it lasts. Welcome to a dream setting a thousand miles from our sullen and gray urban centers.
Chefchaouen, or Chaouen, is a city located in the Rif mountains, north-west of Morocco. It is famous for the remarkable buildings of different tones of faded blue of its old town. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled alleys. In the shaded central square of Outa el Hammam is the casbah with red walls, fortress and keep of the fifteenth century with ethnographic and artistic exhibitions. The octagonal minaret of the Great Mosque rises not far from there.
seen from above, their resemblances are striking. Yet more than 7,000 kilometers separate these two cities with colorful blue walls: Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan, and Chefchaouen, Berber city located more than two hours drive south of Tangier. Both were founded in the fifteenth century, twelve years apart. There is a link between them, a mirror effect that exceeds them. In their winding, labyrinthine streets, the color spreads over the walls, covers the stones, slides underfoot. A lime blue, soft, mineral, deep. Enveloping and warm: it gives off an impression of well-being.
The hue of Chefchaouen shares with the indigo of Jodhpur historical origins. Not only does it reflect the light of the sun, keeping the inside of the houses cool, but also it keeps away mosquitoes … and termites, kept away by the copper sulphate, which, mixed with lime, produces the color blue. Finally, it is said that the inhabitants of this desert region, lost between the mountains Meggou and Kelaa, would have used the color to attract the attention of the merchants.
Today, many of them occupy the streets, where they display woven baskets, colorful fabrics, traditional clothing and antique jewelry. The scent of fresh herbs and traditional dishes comes out of the windows, like spices and warm breads covered with fresh cheese and honey. In the evening, you have to climb the slopes of Jbel Tissouka and watch the sun set over the city when the blue goes out to blend in with the night.