About Júzcar

Júzcar is situated in the Alto Genal (Upper Genal Valley), which is in the Serranía de Ronda, extending from the Jarastepar peak, at 1,425 metres above sea level, to the municipalities of Estepona and Benahavis on the Costa del Sol.

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 Jardón peak at 1,156 metres.  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 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, Júzcar is quite similar to other mountain towns in the comarca of Ronda, 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 Júzcar.  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.

The Church of Santa Catalina

The church 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 Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  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 Moor’s cave) and the area that the river Genal flows through.

The St. Michael Royal Tin Factory, Juzcar

The first ever factory built in Spain for the production of tin was built in Júzcar according to a book published by Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, the biggest foundry in the country. The reason Júzcar 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 “The Never Before Seen in Spain Royal Tin and its Adherents Factory, under the reign of the always invincible Catholic Monarchs Don Felipe V and Doña Isabel Farnesio”.  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 Fábrica, had a secret research area and employed 200 workers.  About 30 technicians under the management of two Swiss engineers, Pedro Menrón and Emerico Dupasquier, were brought in from Germany to run the place since the smelting process was unknown in Spain.  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 industry’s 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 early part of the 20th century in the face of growing competition from the Basque and Asturian regions.

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