Until the arrival of Spanish troops in 1920, Chefchaouen had been visited by just three Westerners. Two were missionary explorers: Charles de Foucauld, a Frenchman who spent just an hour in the town in 1883, disguised as a Jewish rabbi, and William Summers, an American who was poisoned by the townsfolk here in 1892. The third, in 1889, was the British journalist Walter Harris, whose main impulse, as described in his book, Land of an African Sultan, was “the very fact that there existed within thirty hours’ ride of Tangier a city in which it was considered an utter impossibility for a Christian to enter”. Thankfully, Chefchaouen today is more welcoming towards outsiders, and a number of the Medina’s newer guesthouses now include owners hailing from Britain, Italy and the former Christian enemy, Spain.

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