Chefchaouen: the Blue Pearl of Morocco
The city of Chefchaouen in Morocco is one of the most beautiful cities in North Africa. Boasting of incredible architecture mostly painted in blue, ‘the Blue Pearl’ (as the city is sometimes called) is definitely a place to consider for a holiday with family and friends. The city itself is strategically situated amidst the Rif Mountains, which is about two hours’ drive from Tangier, another beautiful city in Morocco.
Interestingly enough, there has been much ration but unsubstantiated debate surrounding the proliferation of blue buildings and structures in the city. However, some of these arguments seem amusing. One of such arguments is that the city was painted blue in order to keep mosquitoes away from the city. Some others argued that the choice of colour was made by the Jewish refugees who made that place their home for many years. The reason they did, it is believed, is that the colour blue is of high significance to Jewish religious practices and belief. Another suggestion is that the colour blue is used to represent the sky, while others opine that it is significant because Morocco is on the east of the Mediterranean Sea.
However, due to modernisation, external parts of the city have begun to embrace the use of other colours and architectural designs. These days, the blue buildings and walls can only be found in the old areas of the city, which is in the centre of the city. This adds an intriguing excitement for adventure-seekers and tourists from other parts of the world.
HOW DID CHEFCHAOUEN COME INTO EXISTENCE?
Dating back to the 15th century, the Blue Pearl is said to have first been used as a settlement for refugees of Moorish and Jewish descent. It is also said that several other tribes and ethnicities could be found in Chefchaouen during this period. King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife Isabella I of Castile decided to unite the Spanish kingdom under Catholicism in the late part of the 15th century. Under the Spanish Inquisition, people of other faiths and who practiced other religions had to make a choice between exile and converting to Catholicism. Many Muslims and Jews fled to other parts of the world in order to escape persecution. Jews also fleeing capture from Hitler made their way to Morocco, which was accommodating for refugees at that time. These refugees settled in that city and Chefchaouen was created in 1471.
Today, the number of Jews in Morocco is small as many of them have made their way back to their country and other parts of the world, but the residents in Chefchaouen have kept up the beautiful tradition of painting their walls and structures blue. This has helped the city to remain a favourite on the list of beautiful places to visit as a tourist.