Location - J˙zcar, Genal Valley
La Serrania de Ronda
Hotel Bandolero is found in the small and charming white village of J˙zcar. J˙zcar (pronounced "WHO-th-car") is situated among the lush chestnut tree country of the Genal Valley in the spectacular SerranÝa de Ronda, 20 odd kilometers from the large white village of Ronda. It offers various walks for the energetic, peace and quiet for the weary and is centrally located in the SerranÝa for those wanting to explore the area. The history here goes back for thousands of years, stretching from pre-historic cave paintings through the traces of Phoenician visits to the long periods of Roman and Moorish periods to the latest era of Christian Spain. Visitors may enjoy it all; cool mountains, Andalucian architecture, soaring eagles and other wild life, stunning views and delicious cuisineů... all while enjoying the tranquillity and peacefulness of the Genal Valley.
Steps in Juzcar
The Genal Valley is divided into two parts, the Upper and Lower Valleys. The Upper Valley comprises seven white villages with the largest being Igualeja and the smallest being Cartajima. The Lower Valley comprises eight white villages found mainly along route A369 between Ronda and Algeciras. Each village has something different to see, most have a place where one can enjoy a tapa or two and a drink, all have spectaular views of one sort or another and share in the history that goes back thousands of years. In summer, all have their dates for their annual fiestas, a traditional event that should be experienced at least once.
The Upper Valley may be of particular interest to photographers, artist-painters and writers. The incredible mountain and valley views, old tiled rooves of houses and whole villages, crumbling ruins, constant changing light, all offering a wide variety of subjects for painters/photographers. The tranquillity of the area may be just what a writer needs to get that latest work completed, whether reading or writing it. It should certainly be of interest to bird watchers with the many varieties in the area. There are eagles, owls, nightingales, cuckoos, woodpeckers, thrush, wheateaters, bee-eaters and griffon vultures amongst the bird life available in this area. One can sit on the terrace of the Bandolero and see or hear owls, eagles , wood-peckers, cuckoos, and sometimes vultures; the odd European bee-eatter has been spoted as have woodpeckers from the Bandolero terrace. And if you┤re interested in the stars, what better place to come than the mountains of southern Spain to see a night show of lights?
J˙zcar is also home to the source of the Arroyo Riachuelo, one of the arroyos (streams) that contribute to the Genal River. In the bottom of the valley below J˙zcar village, there is a chiringuito (snack stand) selling cool drinks, ice cream and tapas. There is a campsite covered in Poplar trees creating lovely soft shade from the strong Andalucian sun... the Genal River passes through here as well. During the summer months, the bridge is blocked under which passes the river thereby creating a natural fresh swimming pool. This is a lovely, peaceful location to sit and read, drink a beer or other refreshment, have a siesta, and a swim.... very refreshing, relaxing and cool. J˙zcar also has a new municipal pool (2011), cool mountain tops, groves of chestnut trees, a couple of bars, a "pub/club", residents with character, an old church, four fountains with mountain fresh, pure water and fantastic views of the surrounding area iun addition to some new trails for walking.
J˙zcar is situated in the Alto del Genal, which is in the Serrania de Ronda region, extending from the Jarastepar peak, at 1,425 metres above sea level, to the coastal municipalities of Estepona and BenahavÝs.
The landscape is varied in this large municipality, from the rocky terrain of the northern Sierra del Oreganal to the pine and chestnut woods of the lower Sierra Bermeja mountain range. There are small mountains of pine and oak mixing with scrub land near the village itself; reaching from the Las Lomas to the EI Cerro del Jardˇn peak, 1,156 metres high. For a good view over the entire area, one can go to the Riachuelo stream or a little further on and see the white houses speckled over the sides of the Alto del Genal. This hilly terrain has conditioned the layout of the village itself, whose houses seem to be piled one over the other to compensate for the sharply differing levels, a feature of the place that is also evident in the steep and winding streets, some of them stepped. In this respect, J˙zcar is quite similar to other mountain towns in the Ronda area, although one of the rather unique elements in this place is the large number of chimneys that reach out from the irregular rooftops.
The origins of the village are not very clear, although it is believed that the place was lived in before the arrival of the Moors. Following the Christian conquest of the area, the surrounding urban centres were seriously de-populated and the remaining residents grouped together in what is now the village, building a church there is 1505. To judge from the number of outlying urban areas that fell under the jurisdiction of Júzcar in the past, one can assume that the village was quite important in its time. Pascual Madoz, in his Geographical/Historical/Statistical Dictionary of Spain (1845-50), lists six different areas having been part of the municipality of the J˙zcar. But like all the other towns in the area, this place suffered de-population when Moriscos were expelled and outsiders had to be brought in to re-populate the area.
PLACES TO BE VISITED
The Tin Factory
:- The first ever factory set up in Spain for the production of tin was built in J˙zcar according to a book published by Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, the biggest foundry in the country. The reason J˙zcar was chosen as the site was the ready supply of hardwood in the area, essential in the smelting process. The factory began production in the year 1731 under the rather cumbersome trading name ôThe Never Before Seen in Spain Royal Tin and its Adherents Factory, under the reign of the always invincible Catholic Monarchs Don Felipe V and Do˝a Isabel Farnesioö. This, in any case, was written in stone at the entrance, the book tells us. The factory, situated beside the river in a place now known as the Finca La Fßbrica, had a secret research area and employed 200 workers. About 30 technicians under the management of two Swiss engineers, Pedro Menrˇn and Emerico Dupasquier, were brought in from Germany to run the place since the smelting process was not known in this country. The story goes that the technicians were smuggled out of Germany in barrels since their departure was prohibited by law in the interests of protecting the industryĺs secrets. We are also told that camels, rather than the more usual horses, donkeys or mules, were used to transport the products across the mountains because they were better suited towards this task. They were sent there by the Madrid Government for this purpose. The factory, however, went bankrupt in the face of later tough Basque and Asturian competition.
The Church of Santa Catalina
Ruins of the Tin Factory
is the most interesting building in the village. It dates from the 16th century, although it has been restructured many times since then, the last reformation of the building being done after the Civil War. It was built in a single nave with a flat ceiling that hides the remains of an earlier, Mudejar-style supporting structure. Of special interest in the surrounding area is the Cueva del Moro (the Moorĺs cave) and the area that the river Genal flows through.
J˙zcar┤s plaza & 16th century church, St. Catalina
The festival in honour of the town's patron saint, the Virgen del Moclˇn, takes place from 24 to 26 August. This is the biggest festive event in the year and people come from far and near to participate and enjoy the festival. The Day of San JosÚ is also an important date taking place on 19 March, and the RomerÝa, that is held at the end June. The tradition of the El Ni˝o del Huerto on Easter Sunday is celebrated here as in neighbouring Igualeja.
Legend of the Virgen of Moclˇn
Local legend has it that the image of the Virgin de Moclˇn, the patron saint of the village, was found by a young shepherd in the area known as Moclˇn. Seeing how small it was, the youngster assumed it to be a toy and put it in his bag to take it home. Arriving home, he found it was no longer there. He tried twice more to take the statue home but each time it disappeared from the bag and the next day he discovered the statue was in the same place he had found it. He then threw a stone at it in anger, cutting the face. Despite various attempts to repair the cut, it is still visible to this day.
J˙zcar┤s Patron Saint, Nuestra Se˝ora la Virgin de Moclˇn