Hills give way to the Rif mountains, olive groves to pines and the long ascent to Chefchaouen begins. Founded in 1471, Chaouen (as it is known here) was a mountain stronghold for jews and moriscos – refugees of the reconquista in Spain. In fact, nowhere in Morocco has such strong and direct connections with its neighbour to the north. The town was seized again by Spain in 1920 and only returned to a newly independent Morocco in 1956, complete with the empty mosque the Spanish had built to ingraciate themselves and which was never used.
For years it has held an allure for the traveller – its Andalucian visuals, the unique culture that arose through the isolation and blending of diverse populations and not least because the surrounding countryside is one of Morocco’s principle production zones for kif; hashish to you and me. More