With its storied houses, and countless small clear framed windows, its roofs with red and round tiles, Chefchaouen, also known as the “Blue City” is a popular place for artists and painters.
View of the Medina
It was founded in 1471 by Rachid Ben Ali as a fortress city where Muslims, oppressed by the Christians occupying Sebta and the Mediterranean coast, found refuge and safety. It has indeed an ideal location as a city of defense: impregnable strategic position, abundant water supply, agricultural land nearby. Holy City, it was long closed to foreigners. Only Charles Foulcauld managed to enter in 1883, yet he had to pretend to be a wandering Jew and could not stay more than a single night. It took until the early twentieth century, in 1920, for foreigners to enter.
Dam of Daraqouba
Chefchaouen was originally called “Chefchaouen” which means in Berber: spikes, horns, referring to the mountains of the Rif Mountains which surround it. During the Spanish occupation, the spelling was changed to “Xauen” before the name of Chefchaouen (Look at the peaks) was adopted in 1975.
The endearing charm of this city is partly due to the contrast between the nakedness of the limestone wall that rises above the city, and the green countryside irrigated by the river Laou lined with oleanders
Medina of Chefchaouen
The Medina of Chefchaouen is one of the most picturesque in Morocco. It is clearly marked by the imprint of Andalusia. On the houses walls, whitewashed to a man’s height in very light tones, white, blue and purple blend harmoniously which gives to the town a curious bluish reflection.
Fortification of the Kasbah
Inside the Kasbah, whose walls are topped by reddish crumbled battlements, gardens planted with towering palms, fig trees, rose bushes and flowering shrubs, constitute, outside the main square, an oasis of wellbeing and tranquility.
Ras el Maa
The spring of Ras El Maa, located northeast of the Medina, supplies fresh and pure water to the whole city. However, several houses in the Medina are not connected to the water network and must get their water at one of the many fountains nestled here and there in the small streets and squares of the Medina. This “singing” presence of water fills the city with a bewitching and appeasing atmosphere.
The inhabitants of the Rif have always shown their willing for independence and were the source of moult rebellions. Abdelkrim El Khattabi was the instigator of the first anti-colonial war of the twentieth century. Born around 1882, he campaigned for the independence of the Rif and demanded independence from the Spaniards during their protectorate. They refused, the war broke out. Despite his weakness in equipment, he soundly defeated the Spanish troops, and proclaimed the “Republic of the Confederate Tribes of the Rif” in 1922. However, in 1926, Abdelkrim must disarm in face of Spanish troops joined by the French, who feared for their own interests in Morocco.
Arrested, he was later deported on the “Ile de la Reunion”; he escaped in 1947 to finally end his activist life in Cairo, where he died at the age of 81. His methods have inspired other guerrilla strategists such as Mao Tse-tung and Ho Chi Minh.