Trip from Marbella to Gaucín
The White Village high on a Hill
Gaucín is a charming whitewashed mountain village that is 626m above sea level giving spectacular views to Gibraltar and North Africa. The village is close to the Serranía de Ronda where red poppies, yellow mimosa, purple wild orchids, olive groves and pale pink almond blossom are to be seen. Gaucín is famous for its international artists' community.The village has narrow medieval streets bounded by tall houses which spread over two hills. There are many balconys with colourful flower displays. Far below is the deep River Genal valley and above it is the imposing the Sierra del Hacho mountain. The drive from the coast in dramatic as you first dropdown into the Genal valley and then climb steeply with splendid views of Gaucín perched high in the hills.
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The village was first recorded in a chronicle of the Moorish conquest of Al-Andaluz. The town's castle, Castillo del Aguila (Eagle's Castle), dates from Roman times. The castle has seen battles between the Moors and featured in the Christian reconquest. In 1704 the British took Gibraltar and Gaucín became a popular summer destination to escape the summer heat. During the 19th century, the village was used by brandy and tobacco smugglers. Restoration of the castle was carried out between 1989 and 1991. The population has recently been significantly increased by British expatriates.
What to see & do
Starting on Calle Luis de Armiñan just follow the signs to the Mirador. You will pass the Convento de los Carmelitas, built in the 18th century and now used as a civic building holding art exhibitions by the town's many artists. A small diversion will take you to Parque de la Alameda located just after the convent on the right hand side. Watch out for 'Florita's house' with its impressive display of flower pots. You will pass the 1628 baroque fountain with six classical faces.
Pass through the main square called Plaza de la Fuente and continue out to see the Town Hall in Plaza Guzman el Bueno. As you turn into Calle Larga you will see the red and white faced Iglesia de San Sebastian, build on the site of a mosque. Inside the church, the main altar has three golden figures, including San Sebastian and the Virgin de la Nieves, the patron saint of Gaucín. As you continue towards the Castillo del Aguila (Eagle's Castle) be sure to visit the very well kept cemetery where remains are placed in niches in the walls.
Next to cemetery is the Mirador. Do not miss this extrodinarily beautiful area with well kept paths, gardens and seating to enjoy a unobstructed panoramic view. You will be able to see the Penas Blancas, Los Reales, Sierra Crestellina, Sierra El Hacho, Gibraltar, and across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa. There is a display board to help you identify the mountain ranges and countries you can see. Look up to see the remains of the castle on the craggy outcrop. If you have time and feel fit enough, you may want to walk up to the ruins. Follow the signs for Ermita del Santo Nino and the Castle.
Ermita del Santo Nino
Ermita del Santo Nino (Hermitage of the Holy Child) is from the 18th Century. It consists of a main nave covered by a vault, separated by semi-circular arches from another narrower nave. The chapel is square shaped and covered by a vault that is decorated by works in plaster. There is a smaller chapel which hold a painted 17th century image on wood which was brought to the village from Ceuta as an offering after an apparition by Baby Jesus.
Castillo del Aguila
The Castillo del Aguila (the Eagles's Castle) is situated on top of a promontory 688m high and was easy to defend. It offers a 360 degree view of the area, with a splendid vista of Serranía de Ronda and the Campo de Gibraltar. It is thought to have been inhabited since ancient times. The first ceramic remains that were found were Iberian and there is evidence of a roman hill fort. The views from here are stunning and it's great to discover the various rooms and fortifications of the old castle. The castle is surrounded by nice gardens with many wild flowers. On the top of the castle there remains an old bell affording great photo opportunities. The castle and Santo Nino is open from 10.30 - 13.30 and from 18.00 - 20.00. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Via Ferrata (Iron Way)
Just before the entrance to the castle grounds is the starting point of the Iron Way. The central theme of any ferrata is a thick steel cable that is fixed to the side of a mountain. The cable is the backbone of any ferrata route and should provide all the safety you will need. This 'lifeline' is drilled into the rock face every few metres, thereby limiting any falls. The via ferrata route in Gaucín is one of the most difficult/technical ones around. Fitness is quite important, your arms and legs get surprisingly tired hanging on for dear life. Unlike many other of the ferrata routes, you start at the top and go downwards and across. Which adds to the difficulty. Upon entering the main section of the ferrata you need to scale a rock face horizontally and downwards, which adds a lot of weight bearing on your arms. It is a spectacular route and with two ‘Monkey bridges,’ one larger ‘Tibetan bridge’ and a 30m zip line. For more information, go to the Iron Way page on the Spain-Holiday site
There are a number of walks close to Gaucín. Look out for wild flowers, soaring eagles and bee-eaters. Walk down the Roman road known as the 'Camino to Gibraltar'. Go down into the Genal valley to a mountain chapel (the Ermita de Juan de Dios) and treat yourself to views out across the Genal valley.
Take a 60 metre abseil from the German bridge to enter one of Andalucía’s most impressive canyons. Averaging 150 metres in height, the river in the canyon offers hours of fun with fascinating jumps and abseils.
Gaucín Bull Run
The Gaucín bull run takes place every year on Easter Sunday. Get there early to find good spots from which to see the run. If you decide to run yourself, get the special tee-shirt and check out the big metal barriers and gates to get behind when the bull comes. After the Mayor makes a speech he sets off a firework to start the run. There are usually three bulls released during the day. Don't be too concerned about getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, just follow the crowds and if necessary get help from the security personnel dotted around the town.
Gaucín has many restaurants serving up excellent Andalucian cuisine. Look out for those with terraces offering spectacular views across the valley and surrounding countryside. You may prefer those located in the centre of the town amongst the winding streets decked with beautiful floral displays. Gordon Ramsay came here to transform one of the restaurants from a ´nightmare´ into a top-quality eatery. You might like to try one of the following that have been given good reviews:- La Fructuosa; El Atico; El Lateral; La Granada Divino; Cafe-Bar El Hacho; Caserio Ananda; La Parrilla del Pilar.
How to get there
To visit Gaucín from Marbella by car, follow the N340 past Estepona and turn inland at Sabinillas. Go up the A377 and drive past Manilva towards Casares past windmills. After Casares the road skirts Sierra Crestelina and then drops steeply down to cross the River Genal before the long winding climb up to the village. Alternatively, take the Motorway (toll road) and turn towards Casares at Junction 142. This is much quicker which will give you more time in Gaucín.
Have a nice Day
Another great trip from our apartment in Marbella