The Rif is a specialty for demanding travelers. The black diamond, or rather the blue diamond, is this elixir of a city in the mountains: Chefchaouen, the blue city. An unimaginable city founded four centuries ago by emigrants of high culture who came from neighboring Andalusia, finally. The result exceeds all dreams.
In the cedars, the holm oaks and the pines, largely irrigated by sources with high flow, a subtle casing of houses, mosques, passages, staircases gives the impression of going nowhere, subject to the omnipresence blue which gives the shapes reliefs, softness and nuances which are renewed every year. Unique but never uniform. We are not allowed to speak of a (cosmetic) miracle, but it is difficult not to think about it. Even less to forget it when the road finds the great blue of the Mediterranean.
It was a major objective during my report on the Mediterranean coast, from Ceuta to Oujda. Easter, brightening lights. I knew that this exceptional city was blue, but I did not know that for my second stay, it would be as bright! The holidays had authorized schoolchildren to lend a hand: paintbrushes and brushes had fluttered on the walls built at the end of the 15th century, and the blue of Chefchaouen, a real registered trademark, had taken possession of the holy city again. A city-sculpture, a speleologist's walk since everything is passage and vault, since it is a complex organism faithful to its memory but alive. Everything is blue, the ground, the walls, the sky, but offering infinite variations of a magic hue that multiplies. I was walking in the sky. For three days, I became a blue man, watching for the light that invents spaces. Almost immaterial silhouettes of a woman and her children coming home from school. So it's not a dream…
If the mountains are not the highest in Morocco - Mount Tidighine only reaches 2,450 meters - they are the most airtight. The valleys, separated from the Mediterranean or the Atlantic influence, can be very dry, or even resemble the steppe. Very segmented, isolated universe, which forged the famous Rif character.
Chefchaouen, the pearl of the Rif.
Beautiful day and night, in all the lights. I slept at the top to make sure I didn't miss anything. The eye riveted to the east until the sun begins to emerge from its milky gangue. Suddenly everything is blue: the famous Chefchaouen blue comes from an aurora? The sky, the thick mist in the valleys, the city already luminous, as if it were lit from the inside. Perfect harmony. A recommendation: take the walk, because the city is installed on two peaks in the shape of a horn which give it its name.
Chefchaouen is a double labyrinth, vertical and horizontal. Inextricable but not disturbing. We change levels without noticing; we turn right, in fact we find ourselves on the left. We lose all references, and the color complicates the game by depriving of point easy to identify. It is a symphony in blue, for initiates. Closer at first sight to sculpture than to architecture. The young woman was waiting for her little brother who was going to leave school; I found them later at the bend of a walk, I obviously can not say where! In the big blue…
The name comes from Ech Chaoun, "the horns", name of one of the two mountains on which the blue city leans, which culminate at more than two thousand meters. True capital of high religious culture, city of mosques, it was founded by the sheriff Moulay Ali ben Rached in 1471, to make it a base to fight against Portuguese incursions. It retains a unique character.