The “blue town” of Chefchaouen

Usually I try to tie my posts to a topic or theme, or expand my travel observations into an essay. This post isn’t like that. It’s just some photos of a town that’s blue.


The town is called Chefchaouen, and it’s in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco.


Why is it blue? There are various theories…


One theory is that the blue paint is designed to ward off mosquitoes.


Or maybe the tradition of painting buildings blue was brought by Jewish immigrants fleeing the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century…


Or Jewish immigrants fleeing Hitler in the 1930s…


Nobody seems to know, because until recently, nobody cared about these people, and so nobody asked.


But nowadays, tourists like me want to see a blue town. And the town’s economy seems heavily dependent on tourism. So perhaps the most accurate answer is: “It’s blue because tourists want it to be blue.”

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There are 2 comments

  1. Love this “economic incentive” – I have friends traveling as we speak in Morocco. I forwarded it to them in case they might visit. Thank you, Andrew, as always for a nice travel piece.

    1. Thanks, Virginia! Tourism is definitely a powerful economic incentive, particularly in relatively poor countries. I wonder if the buildings would still be blue if the tourists didn’t exist. I have a hunch that a lot of them would have been repainted in different colours, or just plain white like the buildings outside the old town 😉

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