© Photos: Carlos Bouza. Text: Pilar Moreno

Chefchauen is a small city located in the Rif mountain chain at 660m high. Their buildings call the attention for their bluish tones that combine in a relaxing and photogenic way. It is a small paradise that deserves a visit to make a quiet stroll through narrow streets, to breathe fresh air and get lost in a walk to other time.

Chefchauen in Berber means “watch the horns”. These are not other than Mountain Tisouka and Megou that rise above the town like two horns giving it this curious name and a strong contrast to the green colour of its forests.

The "Medina" is relatively small and quiet. Entering it without haste and letting you to be carried away by colours, smells and silences will immediately flood you with new sensations and unknown experiences. The great variety of products of the spice stands; the metal, leather or wood workshops and the looms contrast with the white and bluish tone of the houses. The unknown voices and sounds will guide our steps until we reach Uta el-Hammam Square, the bustling core of the city.

In the square we can make a stop and rest in the shade of the blackberry, or have a lunch or a delicious tea with peppermint in one of the many cafes or restaurants that surround it. It is always full of life and it is the meeting point for everybody, local and foreign. In this same square is the Great Mosque of octagonal minaret, which only Muslim believers can enter, and the Alcazaba. The founder of the city Moulay Ali ibn Rachid built the Alcazaba or Kasbah too in the year 1471. Upon crossing the doors we find the gardens, full of palm trees and get access to the watchtowers from which there is a magnificent view from the city. The visit is completed with an ethnographic museum where we will find a modest collection of ancient weapons, textile instruments and historical photos of the city; we can also visit a small art gallery.

The shopping area is the Medina, around the Uta el-Hamman square. The influx of tourists, nationals and foreigners has boosted the local industry and craftsmenship. Next to the square is the craft centre. How can it be otherwise in Morocco? you have to be prepared to haggle!

Chefchaouen was a holy city where neither Christians nor foreigners were allowed entry. With the arrival of the Spanish troops in 1920 an opening to the outside began although always with a look of distrust towards the foreigner. Nevertheless people in general are friendly and close and tend to help you when you need it.

If you decide to travel to Chefchaouen, we advise you to stay in a “Riad”. In Arabic it means garden, its distribution being really curious. It consists of a small 2-storey building, with an inner courtyard around which the rooms and some common areas are distributed. It is precisely this inner courtyard that usually characterizes the accommodation, as it is a cool, quiet place and normally decorated with mosaics of tiles and plants that, together with a fountain or small pool, bring freshness and the relaxing sound of water. The treatment of the owners is familiar …. The best way to start an authentic chauní adventure.