Chefchaouen: Get to know the city in Morocco that has been painted blue for 500 years

You may not even know the name, but you certainly must have seen photographs of this curious little town where the houses are painted blue, right? Located in Morocco, her name is Chefchaouen and, according to Jacob Shamsian of Business Insider, the custom of coloring buildings with different bluish hues arose over 500 years ago and dates back to the late 15th century.

Fascinating story

In fact, according to Jacob, it was not like that, out of the blue, that the people of Chefchaouen decided that it would be nice to start painting everything blue. The city was founded in 1471 in the form of a small fortress - which was built to prevent Portuguese advance in Morocco and to strengthen trade in the region.

Chefchaouen in Morocco

(Business Insider / Pazhyna / iStock)

The place, in fact, only began to gain its characteristic tone in 1492, when it received a large number of Jews who were expelled or fled from Spain to escape the Holy Inquisition. For it was the members of this community - known as the Sephardic - who began to paint Chefchaouen's buildings blue, and the tradition is related to the fact that it is the color of the sky and that it reminds these people of God's existence.

Chefchaouen in Morocco

(Business Insider / antonyshum / iStock)

According to Mark Rausch of AFK Travel, because it was an ancient fortress, Chefchaouen was walled and remained relatively “closed” to “outsiders” until the 1920s - since Morocco was under Spanish domination. However, when the country gained its independence in 1956, the city began to open its doors to visitors, and today has become a popular tourist attraction.

Chefchaouen in Morocco

(Erik G. Wheats / Flickr)

The town is located in northern Morocco, in the Tangier-Tetuan region, close to the Mediterranean, and has a population of just over 42, 700 - according to the 2014 census. The name Chefchaouen means “two horns” in the Berber language, and makes reference to the appearance of the “cut in half” mountain that is close to the valley in which the city was founded and, therefore, has nothing to do nor does it refer to the small town of the Smurfs.

Chefchaouen in Morocco

(Business insider / AnetteAndersen / iStock)