chefchaouen: is this morocco or greece?


One of Morocco’s many unique locations is the city of Chefchaouen. When you first encounter this city, despite it being landlocked, you can easily imagine the Mediterranean sea just next to it, as the city has a decidedly Greek feel to it. This is in large part due to the fact that many structures in the old part of town are painted blue and white, looking exactly as structures on a Greek island would.

Chefchaouen is a city of approximately 40,000 inhabitants located about 100km from Ceuta in the outskirts of two mountains: Tisouka [2050m] and Megou [1616 ms] which rise over the town like two horns. This physical feature has given the city its name as Chefchaouen in Berebér means “watch the horns.”

The city of was founded in 1471 by Mulay Alí Ben Rachid. Located in a difficult to access location it dominated the mercantile route between Tetuan and Fez. From the 15th through the 17th century the city prospered and grew with the arrival of the Moors [Moriscos] and the Jews [Sefardíes] who were expelled from the Andalusia region of Spain. Until the present day the town’s district called Andalúz is one of the most popular in the medina. The city was closed to all the foreigners, particularly the Christians, until the beginning of the Spanish occupation in 1920.

Between 1924 and 1926, during the war of the Rif, the city was able to expel the Spaniards, but it did not take long for them to occupy Chaouen again, which they did in September of 1926. The Spanish remained in the city until 1956 when Morocco gained its independence.

Walking the small and windy streets of the medina will inevitably bring you to the central square of the city: Uta el-Hammam square. Here there are many stores, bazaars, and restaurants, all of which overlook the Great Mosque and the Kasbah. It is a great place to sip a mint tea and watch people.

It is a location not to be missed, especially if it happens to be your birthday. 🙂