Chefchaouen’s Medina is small when compared to others in Morocco, and it is undoubtedly a place to enjoy exploring at random. The architecture has a strong Andalusian character, reflecting the city’s history: Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah (Mohammed III) ordered the Jewish families to move into the Medina around 1760, their Mellah taking in the area that today encompasses the southern quarter between the kasbah and Bab el Aïn. Here they built their whitewashed ochre houses with small balconies, tiled roofs and Andalusian-style courtyards. It’s from this time that Chefchaouen’s famous shades of blue arose, the Jews adding indigo into the whitewash to contrast the Mellah against the traditional green of Islam.
The main gateway to the Medina is Bab el Aïn, a tiny arched entrance at the junction of Avenue Hassan II with Rue Moulay Ali Ben Rachid. Through the gate a clearly dominant lane winds up through the Medina to the main square, Plaza Outa el Hammam and beyond to a second, smaller square, Plaza el Makhzen.