Bring a pair of comfortable shoes and leave in your suitcase fashionable sandals and embroidered tunics, the riad deco and the sophisticated fusion restaurants of the red city could not be further apart.
Founded in 1471 by exiled Muslims and Jews fleeing the Spanish “Reconquista”, Chefchaouen, literally “look at the peaks”, is a small town located in the north-west of Morocco that, after having attracted backpackers and trekking enthusiasts, in recent years has been discovered by a wider audience who decides to move away from the traditional routes and stop over one of the most beautiful places in the country.
At the station of arrival, a steep climb leads to the medina, quite small and uncrowded, and to its main squares, Plaza Uta El-Hammam and Plaza El- Makhzen, around which is focused the vibrant city life, cafés, restaurants and shops where you can buy decorated pottery, silver jewelry and the inevitable Berber carpets.
Most likely, however, once you get into the old town, shopping will be the least of your thoughts, here there are no special attractions or unmissable museums, the only thing to do is getting lost happy in this bright labyrinth of alleys blue painted.
Yes, because the blue, introduced in the 30s by the Jews as an evocative symbol of the divine and renewed every spring by locals, covers in all its nuances walls, doors, rooms, stairways, and each step of the medina, creating in this way a mysterious but at the same time comforting place, imbued with a magical sense of peace and tranquility.
To the charm of this chromatic experience is added the legacy of the Andalusian influence, still evident in the vaults and in the crenellated walls of the casbah, and the atmosphere typically Berber, creating a unique mix of styles and traditions.
Despite the growing presence of tourists, through these streets flows serenely the life of a community still largely rural, marked by the rhythms of work and the traditional call to prayer of the muezzin.
TIP: if you don’t have a car, Chefchaouen is easily accessible thanks to private taxis and the excellent public transport service CTM that in a couple of hours links Chefchaouen to, among others, Tangier, Tetouan and Fès.
Text by Elena Bottai and photos by Sandra Jordan (sandrajordanphotography.co.uk)