(Arabic: شفشاون Shafshāwan(pronounced IPA: ʃəfˈʃɑˑwən); Berber languages: ⴰⵛⵛⴰⵡⵏ Ashawen), also known as Chaouen, is a city in northwest Morocco. It is the chief town of the province of the same name, and is noted for its buildings in shades of blue. Chefchaouen is situated just inland from Tangier and Tétouan.
The city was founded in 1471 as a small kasbah (fortress) by Moulay Ali ibn Rashid al-Alami, a descendant of Abd as-Salam al-Alamiand Idris I, and through them, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Al-Alami founded the city to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco.Along with the Ghomaratribes of the region, many Moriscos and Jewssettled here after the Spanish Reconquista in medieval times. In 1920, the Spanish seized Chaouen to form part of Spanish Morocco. Spanish troops imprisoned Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi in the kasbah from 1916 to 1917, after he talked with the German consul Dr. Walter Zechlin (1879–1962). In September 1925, in the middle of the Rif War, a rogue squadron of American volunteer pilots, including veterans of World War I, bombarded civilians in Chaouen. Colonel Charles Michael Sweeney had proposed the idea to French Prime Minister Paul Painlevé, who "warmly welcomed the Colonel’s request.
After al-Khattabi was defeated with the help of the French, he was deported to Réunion in 1926. Spain returned the city after the independence of Morocco in 1956. .
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