An ancient city in Morocco has been painted shades of blue for 500 years

Chefchaouen Morocco blue cityZzvet/iStock500 years of blue.

Chefchaouen is a city in Morocco that’s famous for its blue hue. While it was founded in 1471, it didn’t get its distinctive colour until 1492, when it received an influx of Jews escaping the Spanish inquisition, who brought a tradition of painting buildings blue.

Half a millennium later, the tradition persists in Chefchaouen’s Old City, which is now a popular tourism and shopping destination.

The city's grown since the 1400s, but it's Chefchaouen's Old City that maintains the blue tradition.

Mikhail Markovskiy/iStock

The city itself is near the northern tip of Morocco.

The tradition of painting everything blue dates back to the Jewish community that settled there in the 15th century.


Spain expelled its Jews in 1492, and many of them fled to the Middle East. A contingent settled in Morocco.


The Sephardi Jewish community that settled in Chefchaouen brought along their tradition of painting buildings blue.


The colour mirrors the sky and reminds them of God.

Juan García Aunión/iStock

And the effect is beautiful.

Juan García Aunión/iStock

But it really took off in Chefchaouen.


Like many old cities, it's walled. Chefchaouen was closed to outsiders until the 1920s, when Spain seized that region of Morocco.

By the end of the century, it became a popular tourist destination.


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