Third post of the series “A Fantastik world of colors”. The idea came up during the lockdown, when we travelled without leaving home, with the posts on our Instagram account. We visited places in the world that are very authentic, original and of course very colourful. Just like our philosophy.
When the confinement was over, we decided to continue with the list, so we kept ideas for our next trips.
The blue pearl of Africa
Today we start our journey in Morocco. More specifically in the city of Chefchaouen, also called the blue pearl of Africa. This town of less than 50,000 inhabitants was founded in 1741 and was a key stop on the trade routes between Fes and Tangier. During the Middle Ages, local tribes, Moors from Spain and Jews populated the area.
At the beginning of the 20th century, already under the protectorate of Spain, the place received an important immigration of Jewish refugees who were running away from the intolerance of Europe.
Although there are various assumptions regarding the color choice in Chefchaouen, Jewish culture may have played a role. For the Jews, the colour blue represents the sky, which in turn reminds them of God. There is a long tradition of painting things blue and using blue dyes to colour fabrics.
Another theory claims that the city’s blue tones help to scare away mosquitoes. Residents may have noticed fewer mosquitoes in the Jewish part of town and decided to do the same to keep the pesky insects away from their houses.
Some locals say that the blue helps keep their homes cool in the warmer months. Although this was probably not the original intention, it serves as a valid explanation as to why the painting continues into modern times.
Whatever the reason, the truth is that almost every house in Chefchaouen is painted in vibrant shades of blue, giving it a stunning visual effect. The city is one of the most important tourist attractions in the country, and no wonder!
Underground colours in Sweden
One of the great tourist attractions in the Swedish capital is not in plain sight – you have to go underground to see it. Stockholm’s metro network is said to be “the world’s longest art gallery”, with more than 90 of its 100 stations decorated with paintings, installations, mosaics and sculptures by 150 artists since the 1950s.
The builders never wanted to hide the fact that you are underground when you ride the metro, so they left the living rock on many of the walls and ceilings. To make it look less gloomy, however, they opted to decorate it, transforming each station into a small museum. There are even guided tours throughout the year. Our favourite one is Stadion, in the Östermalmy district, and it was one of the first stations to be created with this cave structure in 1973.
At the time it was a very controversial decision because they didn’t want the metro to be identified as an unpleasant place. So they decorated it with bright rainbow colours and bright blue, reminding commuters that there is a sky above their heads. Coincidentally, the rainbow has served as a welcome sign for to those attending Stockholm Pride, the gay pride festival held nearby.
There are many more beautiful stations, we encourage you to do a little more research on your own because it is definitely worth it.
Kaleidoscopic stained glass windows in Iran
The last stop on this post is in Iran to visit the majestic Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, located in Shiraz, in the northwest of the country. Although not very large, the building is famous for its use of colourful stained-glass windows, not at all typical of Islamic architecture and culture.
It is also widely known as the Pink Mosque, due to the predominance of pink tiles in its interior design. But we actually think it should be called the Rainbow Mosque, because when the sun shines through the stained-glass windows, it creates a spectacular kaleidoscopic effect of light and colour that floods the entire space.
The exterior is equally impressive thanks to its open atrium with a long reflecting pool. As well as spectacular domes and complex architectural and design elements, such as geometric tiles, arches and painted niches.