portrait of a blue town

Children play in Chefchaouen’s medina (old city), a place famous for its striking blue walls.

Chefchaouen is a small medieval town in the Rif mountains of Northwest Morocco. The “medina” (old city) is surrounded by a large stone wall with 7 arched doorways. Once inside the pedestrians-only medina, one is confronted with a mind-boggling maze of narrow streets and alleyways, beautiful arches, hundreds of stairways and yes, most of the buildings are painted in shades of blue! It’s a stunning spectacle seeing towns people, donkeys, cats, children, shopkeepers and their colorful wares all against the backdrop of the brightly colored blue walls.

While I was here, I wanted to try to photograph more than just the beautiful architecture and striking colors, pretty though they are. It struck me that within these ancient walls, a lot of wonderful interaction happens very publicly every day. It was my hope to capture some of it.

Every morning and afternoon, old men gather in the town square to talk and people-watch together. Another group plays parcheesi outside a tea shop. Kids play near one of the numerous town fountains as a blind old man walks past, his cane making a soft ticking sound as it taps the stone ground. Some children do their homework on the steps of a hotel their family runs while nearby, a cat dozes in a doorway. These are some of the moments you’ll see in the photographs below.

A group of old men sit in the town square people-watching.

A little boy laughs at something at the top of one of the many stairways in the medina.

A woman walks her child home from school past a display of colorful clothes, offset by the striking blue walls.

Some men play a game of parcheesi outside a tea shop.

A cat lazes in one of the many colorful doorways of the medina.

A blind man walks past one of the medina’s public drinking fountains where children are gathered.

Some children do their homework on the steps of the hotel their family runs.

A girl laughs while she plays a skipping game with some friends.

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