Chefchaouen is arguably the most photographed city in Morocco and it is easy to see why. Much of the city is painted from head to toe in a heavenly blue. We recently spent a few days wandering the streets of Chefchaouen and began to wonder: why IS Chefchaouen blue? We asked many people and did a lot of research and compiled the following answers.
WHY IS CHEFCHAOUEN BLUE?
1. When the Jews were being persecuted during the Spanish Inquisition, they fled to Chefchaouen and brought the tradition of painting their houses blue. Apparently there is a city in Israel that is also blue and this is used as proof.
2. Chefchaouen is in the Rif mountains, and it can be cool and rainy. The residents are said to paint their houses blue to ward off mosquitos who don’t like water. Anybody who lives near a lake or pond knows that mosquitos absolutely love water, so this can’t be the reason.
3. Something about the Jews and the Muslims. I’m unclear on this point but it seemed that the method of painting the houses blue was used to distinguish between the homes. Which doesn't stand up because Chefchaouen has a Jewish Quarter just like most ancient cities.
4. The houses in Chefchaouen used to be white but they got dirty quickly and needed washing so some local realized that if they mixed a little blue pigment in the paint the house glowed a little brighter and didn’t need cleaning as often.
5. We were told that Chefchaouen is painted blue because it looks like the sky and reminds them to think of God. And when you are thinking of god, you are being more pious.
The Real Reason Chefchaouen is Blue:
6. INSTAGRAM. No seriously. There is no doubt that the trend of painting your house and business and street draws tourists, and tourists bring money! So people keep painting things blue in Chefchaouen.
I asked how long Chefchaouen has been painted blue and was surprised that that it hasn’t been more than 40 years, which means that there are only two real reasons Chefchaouen is blue - it started out as a practical matter and caught on from there when it became profitable.
But you have to admit that it's fun to image the founders of Chefchaouen sitting around in the late 1400's talking about Instagram and how to draw tourists!