A blue city in Morocco suddenly became famous thanks to Instagram
About 5 years ago, Chefchaouen, a small town in Morocco, became a tourist phenomenon with eye-catching blue houses. It is more than 500 years old. Originally, the town was called Chaouen, meaning "peak" because of its special position with the nearby Rif mountain. In 1975, this place had its current name, meaning "the view of the mountain".
Thanks to the geographical characteristics, the city emerges between nature like a beautiful blue pearl. In the morning, when cold air rushes down from the top of the mountain, locals wear wool coats and sip mint tea in the cafes in the square.
The reason people in the town painted the blue house is controversial. However, most hypotheses involve Jews.
One of the town's most glamorous features is a blend of Moroccan and Andalusian architectures, including red-tiled roofs and complex wood carvings. Ramps and stairways in the city adorn a special part for the landscape.
Not all buildings in the city are blue. Typically, Kasbah, a fortress was built to counter the Portuguese invasion.
40,000 people live here but only about 2,000 people reside in the blue painted houses. Most visitors who just come here to play in the day because Chefchaouen does not have many attractive places. Unlike bustling cities, the city maintains a peaceful life that has existed for centuries.
Objects of tourists to Chefchaouen change over time. Previously, most visitors were Europeans. They came in the summer. However, at present, most customers are Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Tourism time lasts all year.
To better serve tourists, many local people have learned foreign languages such as English or French and Chinese. Many also invite guests to come home to play and have free dinner. They call it Moroccan hospitality.
Previously, few people knew the town. The only way to promote tourism is through word of mouth. Photos of Chefchaouen are also relatively rare because reporters, photographers or videographers must apply for permission before working here.
Smartphone and social network make the lives of people in the town change. In just a few years the number of visitors checking-in at Chefchaouen on Instagram has reached more than 445,000.
Three years ago, Ahmed Saadoune, a former taxi driver, turned his family home into a museum and opened the door for a fee. In addition to the blue walls, he decorated the house with traditional pots and items such as olive presses, weaving machines and bread baskets. This makes visitors excited while before that, the house was abandoned.
Thus, Saadoune's income increased 2-3 times compared to when he was a taxi driver. His house also welcomed many famous models, actors as well as international politicians and officials.
The wave of tourists helps many local people not leave their land to go to other places to find work. Previously, according to tradition, residents of Chefchaouen earned their living by craft. Their products are usually leather bags, copper lamps, scarves and robes. These jobs are not very stable.
Tourism thrives, so residents in the city have more jobs. Typical is Mohammed Saddnoune. Two years ago, he opened a convenience store and bakery to serve tourists.
Instagram brought a wave of visitors to the town. Many people hope visitors can stay longer. Therefore, they continue to renovate the residential areas and open more inns.
By: Scarlet Johnson