What to do and what to see in Gaucín

The municipality of Gaucín is located to the west of the province of Málaga, integrated in Serranía de Ronda region, in the Genal Valley.

Within the province of Málaga, Gaucín limits to the north with the municipality of Benarrabá, to the east with Casares and to the west with Cortes de la Frontera; while in the province of Cádiz, it limits to the south and southwest with Jimena de la Frontera.

With 98 km2, the municipality of Gaucín extends through the south of the Genal Valley and the Guadiaro Valley, with a varied landscape. In Sierra del Hacho of 1,011 meters of altitude, with steep slopes, you will find abundant scrub, while in the other lower-altitude mountains, cork oaks, holm oaks, pine groves, chestnut trees and wild olive trees abound. In the surroundings of the riverbank of River Genal, the orchards and country houses extend along with a varied riverside vegetation. Further west, in the Guadiaro Valley, wonderful places of thick forest and scrub also develop. At least 70% of Gaucín territory is populated with forests.

The Gaucín town, located on the slopes of Sierra del Hacho, 688 meters above sea level, is the first town in Serranía de Ronda that you will find on the road that connects Campo de Gibraltar with Ronda city. From its location you can get exceptional panoramic views of Sierra Crestellina, the Genal Valley and Mediterranean Sea, which is why it is known as the Serranía de Ronda Balcony.

The urban area of Gaucín, of Arab influence, acquires a layout adapted to the steep slope on which it sits, with winding, intricate and winding streets, as well as whitewashed houses adorned with bars and balconies, all of them under the hill where the Eagle's Castle rises.

History of Gaucín

The origin of Gaucín is Roman, as certified by remains of towns found in its territory, as well as the road that, taking advantage of the Guadiaro Valley, linked the mines of Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja, Lacipo, in the municipality of Casares, and Arunda, in Ronda. It was also the Romans who built the Eagle's Castle, of high strategic value throughout its history, also during the Arab domination to which we owe its high architectural value, and even during the French domination and the Carlist wars, in the 19th century.

There are also remains of a town and a Visigothic necropolis, in Loma de Enmedio, located 4 km from Gaucín town.

However, it was the Arabs who left the greatest mark on Gaucín, shown in the layout of the town and the type of construction. In the 11th century, Abd al Yabbar, the son of Al-Mutamid, took control of the Montemayor Castle and subdued the castles of neighboring towns, such as Gaucín and Alcalá de los Gazules, among others.

On December 17, 1309, Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, lord of Niebla, Nebrija and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, known as Guzmán el Bueno, fell in battle, fighting against the Muslims near the Eagle's Castle, in the Prados de León.

Gaucín was reconquered by Henry IV of Castile in 1457, but it did not pass into Christian hands until 1485, thanks to the captain Pedro del Castillo, who received in Ronda by Ferdinand II of Aragon the appointment of the first mayor of Gaucín.

In 1488, Ferdinand II of Aragon left a large garrison in Gaucin, the Muslims, fed up with Christian lordship, grouped together and killed many of these soldiers. However, their joy did not last long, because, after closing Gaucin, the Moors who did not kill became slaves.

During the Independence War against the French, Gaucín played an active role exercising strong resistance against the Napoleonic troops, although it was finally looted by the enemies, who killed large numbers of people.

In 1848, during the Carlist wars, an explosion in the powder keg ruined the fortress of the Eagle's Castle and was definitively abandoned for military use.

Today, Gaucín is a population that lives mainly on agricultural, livestock and industrial production, with an environment of fruit trees, vineyards and cereal fields.

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What to see in Gaucín

In Gaucín you will find one of the most beautiful towns in Serranía de Ronda, with steep streets trying to save the orography based on stairs or slopes, with its white houses and with an inspiration within the Moorish architecture that has attracted during the 19th century to painters and traveling writers.

In the upper part of the town you can see the main monument and protagonist of Gaucín throughout its history since Roman times, the Eagle's Castle. It is perched on a small lookout mountain. Its architectural complex consists of three walled enclosures with several towers, three cisterns, an underground escape passage and the Hermitage of Holy Child, in addition to housing the Cannon Museum in one of its rooms. This hermitage, the Hermitage of Holy Child, was built in the 17th century. It has two naves and the exterior is masonry with a small atrium. In it there is a polychrome carving of St. John of God. There was a time when it was enabled for a barracks and one of the castle towers for a powder keg.

Within the religious buildings in Gaucín, the Church of St. Sebastian belongs to the 16th century, a century before the Hermitage of Holy Child. It is baroque in style and was rebuilt in the 17th century, giving it a Renaissance style. It consists of three naves separated by semicircular arches and square pillars. Inside, the gilded wooden altarpiece with images stands out, where the sculpture of Our Lady of the Snows stands out. The exterior features a brick doorway and a simple two-body square tower.

Another religious construction of Gaucín is the Convent of the Carmelites or the former Hermitage of the True Cross, which became a convent in 1704. The church has a rectangular plan, with three naves separated by semicircular arches. The cover is made of gray stone and the brick tower is finished off with a small belfry. At the head it has a chapel with an irregular polygonal floor, covered by an octagonal dome. It currently houses the House of Culture, which has an exhibition hall and an assembly hall.

In Gaucín's civil architecture, the Six spouts' Fountain, located in José Antonio Square, should be highlighted. Andalusian baroque style, it was built in 1628, in stone with a pediment and two pilasters. The sprouts are represented by six different faces that give water from their mouths and that end in voluminous stone pylons.

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What to do in Gaucín

Once you know the different elements that make up Gaucín's cultural heritage, it is time to make visits to its museums to better understand the culture and history of this municipality.

One of the museums that you will find in Gaucín is the Ethnographic Museum, located on Ana Toval Avenue. It contains a whole series of tools from different sectors such as mucking, blacksmithing, agriculture and forestry.

Another museum that you can visit in Gaucín is the Cannon Museum, which recreates the Independence War against the French. It is located in a two-storey building located in the Eagle's Castle, equipped with an exhibition area with stands, furniture and gondolas, a projection area and a conference room.

After having known everything relevant to the cultural sphere of Gaucín, you will not be able to leave without enjoying its natural environment. This municipality, with some of the most varied landscapes in the province of Málaga, marked by the steep slopes of Sierra del Hacho and the riverside vegetation of the Genal Valley. The Guadiaro Valley should not be forgotten in the west, with spectacular landscapes between Maravillas Hill, Escribano Hill and Mora Hill.

So that you can enjoy this natural environment, the municipality of Gaucín proposes a hiking route with which you can delve into the interior of the landscapes that you can contemplate from the town, this is Gaucín - El Colmenar Route PR-A- 245. A 8.5 km long linear path that begins in Gaucín town and ends in El Colmenar, in the municipality of Cortes de la Frontera. You will have the opportunity to obtain impressive panoramic views of the Guadiaro Valley and the Genal Valley, as well as enjoy the wonderful setting that makes up the environment of El Colmenar.

In the event that you prefer to take advantage of this natural environment that the municipality of Gaucín provides you in a more extreme way, you will be able to do one of the via ferratas found in the municipality.

One of them is the Eagle's Castle Via ferrata, the most difficult in the Serranía de Ronda. It combines a high level of physical demand with high technical knowledge, necessary to overcome a monkey bridge, two Tibetan bridges and a zip line. All this in a very aerial environment and with excellent views of the Genal Valley and Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Reserve. It can be accessed from the Eagle's Castle.

The other via ferrata within Gaucín is the Hacho Via ferrata, quite physically demanding due to the two extra leads you will find and which require a certain skill to overcome the cable ladder installed halfway. Once overcome this, you will reach the Hacho summit without difficulty. Its access is from the El Peso Rut.

At the bottom of Sierra del Hacho you can find Picadero La Morena where you can take horse riding lessons.

Finally, the municipality of Gaucín is equipped with a sport centre, a paddle tennis court, a tennis court, a municipal swimming pool and a municipal gym, so that you can practice a more urban type of sport.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Gaucín

One of the best practices to understand, live and enjoy the traditions of the towns of Serranía de Ronda, is by attending the festivities that their municipalities have. Some of them are with more modern nature and celebrated at the national level, but others are festivals of the local environment and with a history and tradition attached to the population.

Regarding Gaucín, the first festival that takes place in the year is also celebrated in different places in Spain. This is the case of the Carnival, celebrated with great roots in the month of February, in a tent that is installed for the occasion in Fuente Square. During its celebration, the goddess of Carnival, the crier, the troupes and chirigotas, the great variety of costumes and, of course, the Children's Carnival follow one another.

Almost giving way to spring, a unique celebration of Gaucín takes place, the Recreation of the Gaucín Conquest. Every March 19 and in costumes of the time, the residents of Gaucín recreate the conquest of the town by the French troops and its subsequent liberation by the bandits.

One of the most typical national celebrations is Holy Week. During its celebration, in the month of March or April, depending on the year, and since Holy Wednesday, religious acts and processional parades of images of the different brotherhoods follow the streets of Gaucín. On Easter the Rope Bull is celebrated in Gaucín. This consists of running a brave bull tied by the horns with a long and thick rope pulled by some waiters who try to direct it and avoid the attacks, through the streets of Gaucín.

Giving way to summer, in Gaucín the Pilgrimage of St. John is celebrated, around June 24, in the place known as “El Asalto del Cura”. It consists of a picnic, in a traditional and family atmosphere, surrounded by nature, with competitions, dances and activities in which all the people participate.

The Genal Valley Cork Flamenco Festival is characteristic of the month of July in Gaucín, classified as Provincial Tourist Singularity Festivity. Its setting is the Eagle's Castle and coincides with the cork oak corkage.

Finally, in the month of August you can enjoy two celebrations in Gaucín. One is the August Fair, around August 8, in honor of the Our Lady of the Snows. It has its origin in the old cattle fairs. During its celebration, competitions, parades and sports competitions are organized, all in a festive atmosphere of dance and celebration with musical performances, fireworks, etc. All this with special mention to the Sunday morning of the fair that is reserved for the popular Rocio Sunday.

The other is the Feast of the Holy Child, which begins the last weekend of August with deep roots in honor of the Holy Child and St. John of God, with a pilgrimage and mass at the Finca La Adelfilla, and the apparition from the Child Jesus to St. John of God on the way to Gibraltar in 1536 is commemorated. The festivities have their maximum splendor on September 7 and 8 with solemn processions and celebrations.

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Gastronomy and crafts from Gaucín

The typical gastronomy of Gaucín, as well as the vast majority of the towns in Serranía de Ronda, is linked to seasonality. Spring offers you stews with wild herbs such as common golden thistles, fennels, bladder campions or wild asparagus. Autumn and winter, fried mushrooms. While throughout the year you can try mountain pots, chickpea stews, meats, rabbit stews, as well as all dishes and sausages from pork.

Of special interest are the wide variety of vegetables and fresh fruits grown in Gaucín.

Among the typical dishes of Gaucín's cuisine, we must highlight cuisine of fennel, hot gazpacho, fresh gazpacho and migas accompanied by grapes, melon, watermelon, oranges, olives, herrings and other farm products.

In pastries, white donuts, almond donuts, pastry sweet, suspiros and rolls are of special note.

Regarding the crafts of Gaucín, the works carried out on iron with the forge, as well as the pottery, the cane and the textile works are very interesting.

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