Trip from Marbella to Júzcar
Antithesis of the White Village
Once one of the White Villages of Andalusia, the buildings in Júzca (including the church and gravestones) are painted smurf-blue. In spring 2011, Sony Pictures were allowed to celebrate the premiere of the Smurfs movie by painting the village blue for ceremonies and photo shots. In December 2011, Sony offered to repaint the town white, but as tourist numbers had swollen from about 300 to 80,000 in the six month after painting, the citizens voted to leave the buildings painted blue. Júzcar is in the Genal valley and lies in the shadow of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. The setting could not be better. The village’s makeover has not changed the character of the village in that life still flows slowly as it always did, the streets are still narrow and winding and the traditions and the serene atmosphere creates the charm of a typical Andalusian white village but with a touch of colour. The houses seem to be piled on top of one another making a picturesque scene.
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The village of Júzcar probably existed before the Moors. Omar ibn Hafsun was a rebel during the reign of the Caliphate at Córdoba, who at his height controlled a significant amount of territory in Andalusia. He is believed to have been born in 850AD on an outlying farm or hamlet known as Torrichela which may have been located a few kilometres north of Júzcar. There is a plaque to his memory. Júzcar was under Muslim control until the Reconquista in 1485. The Muslims were forcibly converted to Christianity but this led to a series of riots that began in 1570. The rebels were crushed and all Moors were expelled in 1609. The famous El Tajarillo lived here, an Andalusian bandit that refused to leave the Iberian Peninsula and is immortalised in legends and a place known as ‘Paso de Tajarillo’. In the eighteenth century, Júzcar had the first tinplate factory in Spain. Established in 1731 it continued until the Peninsular War when it was closed down.
What to see & do
Unfortunately, the main attraction for kids has now gone. The village used to have large models of their favourite Smurf characters as well as many murals of Smurf heros and villains from the film. Sony chose this village because it has a long history and traditions related to mushrooms. Smurfs love mushrooms and so it was thought that this village would be an ideal place for them. It was the first and only official Smurfs village in the world. However , there was on resident that was not happy with the idea of a Smurf village and refused to have his house painted. Look out for it when you're there. But since the heirs to the Smurf franchise took away Juzcar’s rights to associate with the characters, the characters have gone and visitor numbers have fallen. The mountain village of 200 residents was forced to rebrand as the ‘Blue Village’ in 2017, and introduced zip lines and hiking routes in an attempt to keep tourism numbers up. It's still well worth a visit. The kids can still enjoy the large playground at the entrance to the village.
Each autumn, Júzcar becomes a paradise for mycologists and nature lovers. The picturesque countryside surrounding the village is full of all kinds of delicious fungi. If you find mushrooms interesting then try the Mushroom Museum in Júzcar. The building houses an exhibition area, a tourist information desk and a cultural centre. Several mushroom-related events are held in Júzcar and in the region of Serranía de Ronda.
Church of Santa Catalina and Cemetary
The Parish Church of Santa Catalina is Júzcar’s was built in the sixteenth century and has been renovated several times. It has a single nave, the ceiling of which conceals an original Mudejar truss. The front of the church has an arched top door which is flanked by pilasters. It used to have a tower, called the “Torrichela” but it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1650. The Mudejar style belfry is original, as is part of the arch supporting the tower. Behind the church lies a most interesting cemetery. It is a maze of above ground crypts with Christian arches and towers which look like medieval castles.
The Old Tinplate Factory
The first tinplate factory ever developed in Spain was built in Júzcar and became operative in 1731. The melting furnaces were kept burning with wood from the sierras. There was a secret room for tinning processes. The tinplate factory had as many as 200 workers, plus two engineers from Switzerland and 30 technicians trained in Germany. The plant in Júzcar finally went bankrupt but today you can still see the elegant columns and cornices of its austere façade.
Walking, Canyoning and Climbing
Walking in this region of Serranía de Ronda allows you to discover the amazing historical and natural heritage of the area. Why not try a circular walk from Júzcar. The 1st half of the walk takes you to the base of the dramatic limestone crags Los Riscos, with great views over the Genal Valley and its white villages and Morocco on clear days. The return takes you down to the river on the old Moorish path, then uphill more gently through cork oak woods and Sweet Chestnut woodland interspersed with short sections of road. Read More at Butterfly Adventures Walking Tours
Or what about the Fray Leopoldo Tour. Júzcar is one of the villages that the beatified friar frequented in the 33 years he lived in the area. The other stops on the tour are Alpandeire, Pujerra, Igualeja, Cartajima and Faraján.
Canyoning an climbing at Sima Diablo (Devil's Chasm) in the heart of the Genal Valley is amazing. You can enjoy slides, abseils and jumps in a privileged environment. One of the few rivers in the area that lets you discover the amazing flora with natural bonsai trees. It will challenge climbers with its 50m walls covered with cork oaks and Portuguese oaks.
How to get there
The 50km. journey will take you about 75 minutes. Take the coastal route from Marbella along the Golden Mile towards San Pedro. Just before the tunnel at San Pedro take the Ronda Road (A-397). Follow the road towards Ronda for about 30 Minutes. You will see a petrol station on your left. Take the left turn just after the petrol station signposted to Júzcar. From here a long and winding road takes you to Júzcar through stunning countryside. You may like to call into the hilltop village of Cartajima on the way.
Have a nice Day
Another great trip from our apartment in Marbella