But the origins of the practice remain uncertain, and information varies across sources—perhaps due to the fact that the city’s history has largely preserved through oral storytelling. Many locals attest that the blue walls were, until recently, found only in the mellah, the medina’s Jewish quarter, where Jewish families were ordered to relocate by the local sultan in the late 18th century.
Chefchaouen’s Jewish population has long since dispersed, but residents continue to paint their houses shades of sky blue up to three times per year. Though some say this is supposedly to keep houses cool or to fend off mosquitoes, it’s likely that the practice is a gesture of civic unity or pride in their hometown—especially since the colorful walls have put the previously overlooked city on the tourist map.
It’s no wonder that the practice continues. Whatever the exact reason, the beauty of the city is undeniable.