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.
Lawrence Perin: the american
Lawrence Perin is one of the most extravagant personalities that have ever been linked to the Casa del Rey Moro, but his role in Ronda at the beginning of the 20th century meant returning the monument to media and academic attention and the interest of citizens.
In the fall of 1909, the American billionaire Lawrence Perin arrived in Ronda and bought the Casa del Rey Moro. In a few weeks it was news in the most important newspapers of the time. How do i do it?
Perin met in Madrid with the undersecretary of state to explain that he suspected the existence of valuable Muslim treasures in his new acquisition. To confirm this, he hired about 70 workers who started a series of excavations where historical coins and lavish halls were discovered. In Madrid, this story generated such enthusiasm that the government appointed an architect to investigate the find.
However, the news from Ronda denied Perin. The workers were actually a few masons who had conditioned the house to make it habitable. The real treasures consisted of the history of the water mine, which most of the Rondeños already knew. But there was no trace of the sumptuous rooms, with decorations of muqarnas and plasterwork, tombs of Muslim kings, or coins. The scanty Muslim-looking furniture had been bought in Tangier by Perin himself and was contemporary. On the facade of the house had also installed a sign with the price of entry for the visits: 25 pesetas. It seemed clear that the billionaire had only a speculative interest. In less than a week, their lies had been dismantled.
All this excitement motivated one of the first and more detailed historical reports of the Casa del Rey Moro, written by the historian Juan Pérez de Guzmán.
Perin’s attitude then then began to be dangerous. The press of the time draws a precise portrait: went to “throw coins” to citizens who did not want to sell land; He spent his time walking through the corridors of the hotel where he was staying, stirring by hand, reciting verses from the Qur’an, and wound up punching himself with the owner of the establishment; He accused a woman of trying to stab him …
Everyone in Ronda commented that Lawrence Perin was crazy, so they advised the United States consul to take charge of him. It was true: in medical terms, Perin suffered from bipolar disorder. In addition, his state of health had worsened in the summer of 1909, shortly before reaching Ronda, when his wife committed suicide: both were then traveling through Europe with their son of a few years. Despite all this adventure, Perin seemed to get ahead: he returned to the United States, remarried and continued with the stock market business that had made him a multimillionaire. So it was until, in 1917, he decided to take his own life.