Northern Morocco’s blue pearl Chefchaouen is best known for well the blue all over its ancient medina walls, lining the mountainside which the forms the original boundaries of the city. But we bet there are few tidbits here and there about this place that you’re not that familiar with. So we wanted to share with you three fun facts about one of our favourite destinations in Northern Morocco:
1.) The Name Says It All
Well if you speak Amazighi/Berber. The words “Che chaouen” actually mean horns because the shape the hills above the medina look like two horns. Also, keep in mind culturally while everyone speaks Moroccan Arabic, you’ll hear a lot more Tamazight as its a traditional Amazighi enclave.
2.) Its Been a Melting Pot of Religious Refugees
Here’s one for the history buffs. The city was built in 1471 right before the Catholic King and Queen of Spain managed to reconquer the last Muslim territory in 1492. As the year is infamous for the explorations to the Americas but it also marked the expelling of Muslims and Jews from Spain. Chefchaouen served as a Moorish fortress for the exiles. Over the centuries, the city grew and welcomed Jews and Christian converts alike.
3.) Mysterious Blue Origins
There are a few interesting theories to the reason behind why the buildings are painted in that vibrant blue. Some people say it keeps mosquitos away though I don’t buy that as I’m prone to mosquito bites even in the winter and I’m pretty sure they found me there. One theory I like is that a large amount of the original inhabitants were Jews and they painted in that color because it came from the belief that dying thread with tekhelel (a natural blue dye) and weaving it into prayer shawls, people would be reminded of God’s power. So from the practice of using the dye for weaving it transitioned into the painting and repainting that lives on today.
Are you interested in seeing the blue pearl Chefhaouen yourself? Get in touch with our team by sending us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set you up with a custom Morocco tour that includes Chefchaouen. If email’s not your style you can give us a call and chat with Kathi on (+212 06 81 92 05 97) or Mustapha (+212 6 61 05 36 23).