La Casa del Rey Moro

The Casa del Rey Moro is a monumental ensemble unique for its historical interest as a key location in the history of the Reconquest and in the defense of Ronda throughout the centuries.

It consists of three parts: the water mine, the house and the garden.

  • The Water Mine (one of the best conserved exemplars in Spain)
  • The House, an amalgamation of several 18th century homes conceived by the Duchess of Parcent (currently undergoing restoration)
  • The Garden, designed for the Duchess by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier in 1912 (the French landscape architect’s first recognised work in Spain)

Forestier’s Mediterranean-style garden combines elements of classic Hispano-Moorish garden design with the geometric layout of a French garden. It accommodates its outline to the solar strait in the uneven terrain in which it is found by means of three terraces. Additionally, it exploits the site’s full potential by including scenic overlooks with views of the El Tajo gorge and the mountains

The Water Mine is a complex feat of hydraulic engineering for military use; a vertical passageway carved into the wall of the gorge following the line of a natural crevice hidden within the walls of El Tajo. The tour of The Mine
takes you on a unique journey down through its galleries to the bed of the River Guadalevín (some 60 metres/200 feet below), a natural environment of great beauty.

The Water Mine and the Historic Garden are currently open to visitors.

History

 

The history of this place start began during the government of the "Moorish king" to whom his name alludes: Abomelic, son of the Sultan of Fez and member of the Merini dynasty.

It happened in the fourteenth century, when the Marinids controlled some cities on the western frontier of the Nazari Kingdom. In return, those troops from North Africa offered Granada protection against the Castilian armies.

Ronda was crucial in the defense of the Kingdom and for this reason it had to be fortified. For this, the mine was created, which allowed to extract the water from the river through a large wheel installed in one of its rooms. Those in charge of the exhausting effort to operate it were the Christian slaves, who also carried the zaques of water to the outside. It was a safe way to provide water to the population at times of siege, since the lower part of the construction was fortified.

For this reason, the mine played a key role in 1485, during the conquest of Ronda by the Castilian army. Knowing the importance of the mine, the troops of the Marquis of Cádiz attacked it until they reached a weak flank: they disabled the Ferris wheel, cut off the water supply and thus surrendered the city in a matter of days.

 

 

Soon after, efforts were made to Christianize the mine. But that place where Christian slaves had been tortured, who could shelter corpses and who knows how many dangers was quickly abandoned.

The space was years without urbanizing, until in the 18th century a house was built on the mine. Since 1767, it belonged to several members of the Salvatierra family. And in 1911, it was sold to the owner who did the most for its renovation: Trinidad von Scholtz Hermensdorff, Duchess of Parcent. This owner expanded and renovated the house in neo-Mudejar style and commissioned the design of a garden to Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier.

This French landscape painter had come to Spain to design the gardens of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 in Seville. Forestier was inspired for his creation in the Hispano-Muslim gardens and also in the French tradition. In 1943 it was declared a Historic Garden and today it holds the highest degree of protection of heritage, with the category of Cultural Interest.