Written by Heather F on 12 Jun, 2007
Plaza Uta el Hammam, is the main square on which Chefchaouen's medina is situated. It is also lined by cafes and souvenirs on one side while the Grand Mosque and kasbah dominate the other side. Being so central, it is a great place to sit…Read More
Plaza Uta el Hammam, is the main square on which Chefchaouen's medina is situated. It is also lined by cafes and souvenirs on one side while the Grand Mosque and kasbah dominate the other side. Being so central, it is a great place to sit with a mint tea or orange juice and watch the local world go buy. For example, at the Restaurant Bab Kasba, a coke, orange juice, and Moroccan salad cost 19 dirham. This was one of three I tried out around the square during my visit and found good food, although they all offer very similar food at all of them.The Grand Mosque, which is closed to non-Muslims as most mosques in Morocco are, with its octagonal minaret, is best seen from the tower of the adjoining kasbah. It is also a place for great views over the town.The kasbah includes a museum and gallery, situated around a central garden including red, pink, and white roses, plumbago, wind flower and gum trees. Entry to the kasbah is 10 dirhams.The museum includes some beautiful old pieces of embroidery done by hand, old guns, pottery, carpets, and musical instruments.Adjoining the steps up to the tower are the prison cells, just dark, empty rooms today. Close
The narrow, winding, cobbled streets that make up Chefchaouen's medina are an ideal place to wander. Home to most of the town's population, the alleys are quiet except for the occasional playing children, as there are no cars. Instead, gas cylinders and crates of Coca…Read More
The narrow, winding, cobbled streets that make up Chefchaouen's medina are an ideal place to wander. Home to most of the town's population, the alleys are quiet except for the occasional playing children, as there are no cars. Instead, gas cylinders and crates of Coca Cola® are transported by donkey. Below, many of the homes are small shops, both for locals and the tourists, where people can often be seen making products such as rugs, carpets, and wooden products. For most people, it is difficult to visit Chefchaouen without a visit (and most likely a purchase) in a carpet shop. Carpets of all types are made here, some from agave fiber from cacti plants, to wool and cotton. The carpets come in all sizes and colors, but beware: bargain hard. Starting at half the initial asking price is a good idea. There are many carpet shops and many touts who will try to get you into their carpet shop. Keep a special eye out for Abdul with his Union Jack hat, stars and stripes t-shirt, and offers of Vegemite and a koala inside. He caters for all nationalities (and he also has a book full of positive comments from previous happy customers from throughout the world). It is fun to have a chat while looking at carpets even if you don't buy.To give some idea of prices, I bought the following:- a couple of carpets about 1.2 m x 2 m for 400 dirhams and 600 dirhams each- hand-woven, striped, woolen throws that the local women wear as skirts/aprons - 100 to 200 dirham each- cork stools - 40 dirham each- wrought-iron candle sticks - 30 dirham each- wrought-iron mirror frame - 40 dirhamRelax and enjoy the shopping as the local people, including the shop keepers, are very friendly. Close
With the blue and white walls, cobbled streets, steps leading to doorways, old wooden doors, and elegant archways, Chefchaouen is a photographer's delight. In fact, the problem is what to snap, but beware of the shadows. It doesn't matter where in the medina you go,…Read More
With the blue and white walls, cobbled streets, steps leading to doorways, old wooden doors, and elegant archways, Chefchaouen is a photographer's delight. In fact, the problem is what to snap, but beware of the shadows. It doesn't matter where in the medina you go, there are innumerable photographic opportunities awaiting. I'll let the accompanying photographs inspire you. Close
Past the earthen walls surrounding Chefchaouen's medina, and through Bab al-Ansar, the eastern gate, past the Ras el-Maa river where women are hard at work washing their clothes, a trail leads to ruins of a mosque above the village. It takes about half an hour…Read More
Past the earthen walls surrounding Chefchaouen's medina, and through Bab al-Ansar, the eastern gate, past the Ras el-Maa river where women are hard at work washing their clothes, a trail leads to ruins of a mosque above the village. It takes about half an hour at a pleasant stroll to walk the 2km to the mosque ruins. It was built by the Spanish but never gained favor with the local population, hence gradually fell into disrepair. Although not a great sight itself, with just a few walls still standing, the location does provide stunning views of Chefchaouen, the surrounding Rif Mountains, and further north towards the Mediterranean Sea.The trail meanders past local houses and fences made of prickly pear and agave cacti. It is also the path into town for locals who live higher up in the mountains, so expect to meet some. Some of these women can be seen wearing the striped woolen, apron-like skirts that typify the region. Watch out for dung beetles underfoot and don't forget to take the camera. Close
Written by HobWahid on 18 Feb, 2004
Deep in the heart of the Rif Mountains lies the oft-forgotten town of Chefchouen. During the time we spent planning our journey through Morocco, not once did Chefchouen even register on our list of places to go. It was hardly a blurb in most of…Read More
Deep in the heart of the Rif Mountains lies the oft-forgotten town of Chefchouen. During the time we spent planning our journey through Morocco, not once did Chefchouen even register on our list of places to go. It was hardly a blurb in most of the guidebooks. Hence our surprise when our guide in Merzouga told us that Chefchouen was his favorite town in Morocco and that we had to go there. Upon his recommendation, and seeing we had an open day in our schedule, we decided to stop by the town. Little did we expect that we would end up spending an extra day and that when we left Morocco, Chefchouen would have become our favorite place too.
Chefchouen is a tiny town set deep in the Rif Mountains, a two-hour drive from Meknes or Fes. It is rather out of the way, but that is part of what makes it so special. Chefchouen has somehow still managed to escape much of the ill effects of global tourism that have damaged other cities like Fes. The oppressive touts that flood Fes are noticeably absent, and the obnoxious hordes of tour bus tourists are nowhere to be seen. Instead you have thousands of friendly locals and a small congregation of neo-hippie tourists who have come to take advantage of Chefchouen’s noticeably ubiquitous supply of marijuana.
Even if sampling the local marijuana supply is not your thing, Chefchouen is still the perfect place to relax and unwind after the hectic pace of Morocco’s other cities. After being constantly pestered in Fes by people asking if you want a tour or some cheaply-made souvenir, you will chuckle at the odd fellow in Chefchouen who approaches you asking if want un petit morceaux.
Every thing about this town is relaxing. The fresh mountain air will relax your soul. The bathhouses will cleanse your body. Even the soothing light blue and white paint that covers every house in the town will make you leave any troubles behind.
As for sights, the city itself really is the sight. There is a small Kasbah and a nice waterfall outside of town, but the real treat is the town itself. For centuries the town was mainly Jewish, and it was decreed that the whole town would be painted in a shade of light blue, which makes for quite a spectacular sight. The Medina of Chefchouen is an architectural wonder itself. Built on the side of a hill, the narrow streets are so steep at points that they have to be terraced. The best thing to do in Chefchouen is just walk around, through all the narrow passageways and stumbling upon a beautifully ornate door or a street lined with colorful hand-woven decorations. Of course we were there during the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha in which every family slaughters an animal and donates the meat to the poor. Because of the holiday, the streets were lined with sheepskins, horns, and other extraneous leftovers. It was quite the sight.
Written by dangaroo on 13 Jan, 2009
Hidden in the mists of the Moroccan Rif Mountains, is the city of Chefchaouen. But is that really mist or is it just the remaining smoke of the kif (hashish) from the night before? Chefchaoeun (more commonly known as chaoun), is a blue and white…Read More
Hidden in the mists of the Moroccan Rif Mountains, is the city of Chefchaouen. But is that really mist or is it just the remaining smoke of the kif (hashish) from the night before? Chefchaoeun (more commonly known as chaoun), is a blue and white washed town located in beautiful hills of olive trees and marijuana which is about the only thing that will grow up in the hills.Marijauna--------------Considering that marijauna is Morocco's no.1 export, that most marijauna in Europe comes from Morocco, it means that it really is ubiqutous in Chefchaouen. However, although it is tolerated, it still is illegal and although tourists flock there for this sole reason.. there are various scams involving dealers working as police informers and more commonly the offer of "Do you want to come and see where the hash is made", I heard several stories from people when I was there that they had gone along for the interesting journey but then been expected to buy huge quantities (such as 1kg for 200 euros) of the stuff. When they said they didn't want that much, they were then driven to a distant location where they would either be dropped off or have to pay 50 euros to be returned to Chaouen. There are also plenty of places that will wrap edible amounts of the drug into plastic which can then be consumed to pass through borders and this is a surprisingly common choice by Western Europeans but if it somehow explodes in your stomach, you are in enormous trouble and likely to die. All seems far too risky to me and a question that came up to me was, what if you need a poo before you get on the plane?!So is that all there is in Chaoeun?----------------------------------------- --Well not at all, obviously it's a very relaxed town but nowhere near as much so as Essaouira and here you have the added pest of being offered hash every few seconds (particularly as a young man with long hair!), although there are only so many dealers and they lose interest after a day or two. More of a pest was this one chap who was intent on showing us his wool factory! Bloody sheep, I'd had enough of them after this trip! The goat cheese is amazing and it was our only real cheesy experience in Morocco, whilst French stuff was available in other towns, it was expensive. Fresh goat cheese was cheap and plentiful here in Chefchaouen and made the ideal base of some salads and sandwiches we made for ourselves (we had had enough of tajine or cous cous by this point). So apart from a paradise for stoners and a woolen good market for Spanish and Portuguese, Chaouen is a great base for hiking into the nearby hills. Not too much to see in the town itself, there is the hectic little alleyways in the medina eventually leading up to an open square where several restaurants are. Past this there are a couple of shops and most notably fruit and veg stalls with really good produce. Although you might not expect it, my girlfriend came across several brands of local chocolate bars which were really cheap and unbelievably tasty! Outside of the gate to the medina is a boulevard which is much more open and can give you relief from the hectic streets of the town, this leads to a roundabout and if you turn left here and just follow the road to the bottom of the hill, you will come to the bus station.Additionally it may be worth visiting the mosque at Place Uta Hammam and climbing the hill immediately behind the town from where there is a great view of the whole town and the valleys below. Local olive oil is probably the best you will ever taste in your life.Getting There----------------------Chefchaoeun is in the north-west about 100km from Tetouan, the town is well connected by road to Tetouan, Tangiers and Meknes to the south. If you take one of the roads through the mountains to Fes, the roads aren't in great condition and the ride will be bendy but you get some breathtaking views and pass through some very nice little villages. We hitchhiked there from Fes and then took a bus back as we were in a rush. We had a flight out of Marrakech and the bus which was initially supposed to go to Casablanca, never turned up and we ended up having to go to Fes and then taking the night bus from there to Marrakech. Eventually it worked out ok but it was definitely a close call. Buse schedules aren't really to be relied on too much.Internet------------As almost everywhere in Morocco, plenty of internet cafes filled with kids playing football games!Where to stay?---------------------I recommend the place next to Pension Mauritania, I can't for the life of me remember the name but it's signposted along with Pension Mauritania when you get to the first junction after climbing up the steep hill from the gate. Rooms are clean, fresh and cheap. There are additional places to stay on the roof terrace for those on a really tight budget. The place comes equipped with bathrooms with hot water, a kitchen and a laundry service.Summary----------All in all, a nice mellow introduction to Morocco in very nice scenery, each morning the town has mist over it and it's quite magical to watch it slowly disappear. Eating out is a bit more pricier than most places in Morocco but rooms are cheaper. Close
Written by midtownmjd on 26 Jun, 2009
Chefchaouen (or Chaouen, as it's more often called in Morocco) is known for two things: its blue-and-white-splashed medina and its cannabis. Having explored the lovely medina extensively, we set off on a guided hike in the Rif Mountains to learn about the city's cannabis culture.…Read More
Chefchaouen (or Chaouen, as it's more often called in Morocco) is known for two things: its blue-and-white-splashed medina and its cannabis. Having explored the lovely medina extensively, we set off on a guided hike in the Rif Mountains to learn about the city's cannabis culture. On the short trek, we got an education in kif from a local, and great views of the city to boot.As we walked uphill from the medina, we passed a white-washed cemetery, and our guide talked about burial customs in Morocco. He said that the reason these graves don't include name markers is that the families come often enough to never forget which is which. He talked about families breaking fast over graves during Ramadan, and about reburials that take place 35 years after death. As he spoke, the midday call to prayer echoed in the valley below.We climbed further away from the medina and into the marijuana fields (or what would have been marijuana fields had we not arrived post-harvest). Our guide spoke of the regional and national attitudes toward kif (basically, its generally overlooked and largely exported to Europe, and he claimed that there are no fights over ownership of the plants, nor any poaching of neighbors' leaves). He also talked about the history of smoking in Morocco, from when kif was sold in the markets in the early 1900s to when English-hippie visitors made kif into hash in the 1960s to today's general acceptance. It's been banned by the French, made legal by the Spanish, and, it seems, enjoyed by just about everyone. Our guide himself started smoking the local specialty at 9 or 10 years old (he gave it up 25 years ago, though).The tour didn't include smoking, but it did include plenty of interesting history and conversation (and how-to advice!), and lovely views of Chefchaouen and giant olive presses in the fields.I've read that other IgoUgo members were offered hash on every street corner in Chefchaouen, and I didn't find that to be the case at all (maybe because I'm a woman). There's no question that it's a huge part of local culture, though, and has been for a very long time, so a little kif hike in the Rif is a nice introduction to the beloved pastime. Close