As kid, when I was watching Disney’s adaptation of the story of Aladdin with its many shades of blue – especially azure and cornflower blue – I used to think that this was what kingdoms of the Orient must look like. I wanted so much to travel to one. After I’ve grown up a bit, I got to know that it was all a bit more complicated and stories tend to shape and twist reality according to storytelling purposes. The urge to see at least a tiny bit of the world I’d used to imagine didn’t leave me, though.
Morocco, which – truth be told – we only got a glimpse of (a week in the country’s northern part is far too little), has virtually nothing to do with tales of sultans and visiers, or with distinctive Islamic architecture. The fables themselves don’t have much in common with the times they describe and, instead, present stylised visions. Just as I had some representations in my mind. I had some ideas about Morocco too – it’s inevitable. To me, the most important spot on this country’s map wasn’t the desert or popular destinations like Marrakech or Fes. It was a rather inconspicuous town situated at the feet of Rif mountains. Chefchaouen, the city of blue walls. A few years ago I stumbled upon some information about it on the Internet and decided I wanted to go there. Fast forward to 2017 and here I was, looking at my azures and cornflower blues from “Aladdin”.
Well, it’s not like all of Chefchaouen is painted blue – it’s only its medina, and even there the blues are paired with the whites. This peculiar colour combination is a remnant of the time when the city was inhabited by the Jews. The hues bore association with heaven, and by painting their houses’ facades like that they wanted to come closer to it. Even though the paint is faded and covered in dust in many spots, the medina still makes quite an impression, especially in the midday’s sun. Walking the old town’s alleys I didn’t exactly get transported to my time as a little girl enamored with “Aladdin”, but I still wandered around captivated by the uniqueness of the view and a surprising lightness of architecture despite the solidity of the buildings. There was something heavenly about them, even if it was only a recollection of paradise.
Translation: Robert Mróz