Africa’s Blue City is a famous and magnificent city located in the Rif mountains of Northwestern Morocco. Morocco is one of the most and incredibly beautiful countries in North Africa. The Blue City is also called Chefchaouen or just Chaouen by the lovely Moroccans. It is situated at 660m above sea level in the outskirts of the mountains Tisouka and Megou of the mountain range of the Rif, like it is “stuck” between two large horns. The city name of Chefchaouen means ” watch the horns”. This makes the surrounding landscape a beautiful sight. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
It therefore goes without saying that this is a town drenched in blue and really one of the most beautiful places in the world.
It is located near the Mediterranean sea which separates Morocco from Spain.
It was founded in 1471 in the Rif mountains by Jews and Moors fleeing Spain and has a population of about 40,000 inhabitants, (A splendid small town).
I wonder if beauty can be separated from colours. Colour is almost, if not everything. Look around you right now, you find everything around you has a colour description. Colours mean different things to different people and culture and hence symbolic. We all have our favourite colours, as blue is one of my favourite colours.
Colours like I said have different meaning, e.g the colour red can mean romance, or even danger, power. The colour green is the colour of nature. Colour blue is the colour of the sky and sea. It also represents heaven, stability, peace and calmness, trust, cleanliness, tranquillity, confidence and trust.
Now talking about the blue city, many reasons have been adduced why the city is gorgeously painted blue, though am not sure which is true. Some say it was spiritually inspired according to Jews beliefs as the colour blue represents the sky and then reminds people about heaven and God. Also, it is said that painting the whole city blue is to attract tourists and tourists bring a lot money and this has continued till date.
Others say that, the shades of blue that beautify the city help to repel mosquitoes. Though mosquitoes live near water, they hate to be in flowing water itself, the shades of blue appear like a flowing water, thereby repelling mosquitoes.
Others have said that the colour blue helps to keep the homes cool in the warmer months to make it more conducive for in-habitation.Which ever theory is true, this city has become a magical creation which every one desires to experience.
Let me also inform you that Chefchaouen, the Blue city is also a global hub for hashish (Cannabis) cultivation and production, with Morocco recorded in 2015 as the world’s largest provider of cannabis feeding drug trafficking networks in Europe and North Africa majorly and other parts of the world according to United Nations Office for Drugs and crime (UNODC). Spain been close to this City is the main route through which huge quantities of cannabis are transported to Europe through land.
Morocco is known to produce nearly half of the world’s cannabis-hashish(or kif as the locals call it) and an estimation of 800,000 people work in this industry, especially in the Rif mountains of Chefchaouen, the Blue City. Some people have said that Moroccan stuff (weed) is the best.
It is common place but illegal to smoke cannabis in the Blue City because of its ready availability.
Honestly, if you are here, you are certainly going to be offered the thing(don’t ask me what!). I am not going to judge you friend, do as you wish. But someone like me, would certainly decline and would love to see how the thing is cultured, nurtured with passion and processed into the final product.
There are two categories of tourists visiting the Blue City; those who want to see, explore and feel the magical concept of the city like me and those who care less and want to visit and see the hash farms and other things associated with it.
Which ever group you belong, it is a totally safe and peaceful city and been one of the picturesque towns in Morocco, has a lot to offer. Believe me, you will be gifted with a magical experience. Once you are here, your photography instinct and reflex is activated as you explore this photographer’s paradise and dream. There are also numerous shops where several objects of Moroccan craftsmanship can be purchased.
Other things you can do include hiking, canyoning, horse riding, and mounting biking.
The people of Chefchaouen are very friendly and hospitable. If you ever have any difficulty just ask a random local he will listen to you with a big smile.
The best time to visit the city is around spring(March to May) and autumn(September to November). So next time you want to visit Africa, you might want to consider Chefchaouen(sounds Chinese right?), the amazing and exceptional Blue City.
P.S: Images not ours unless stated.
Written by Samuel Agboma.