Chefchaouen or Chaouen, as it is often called by Moroccans, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The name refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. “Chef Chaouen” derives from the Berber word for horns, Ichawen. There are approximately two hundred hotels catering to the summer influx of European tourists. One distinction possessed by Chefchaouen is its blue-rinsed houses and buildings.
Chefchaouen is a popular shopping destination as well, as it offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The goat cheese native to the area is also popular with tourists.
The countryside around it has a reputation for being a prolific source of kief. The Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco.
The growing tourist industry is geared especially towards Spanish tourists, who are especially numerous during great Catholic feasts like Semana Santa and Christmas. Chefchaouen was visited by Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell in 1967. They adored it finding it “very ‘Golden Bough-ish’ Orton mentions their trip in the Orton Diaries.
There are a number of distinct mosques in the town. Aside from the mosque at Place Uta Hammam in the medina, there is also a mosque dedicated to the patron saint of Northern Morocco’s Jebalah region, Moulay Abdeslam Ben Mchich Alami. His tomb and the village surrounding it is by the way an hour’s drive or so from Chefchaouen on the old road to Larache. There is also a ruined mosque built by the Spanish, with stairs still in the tower.