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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.
Images of Júzcar
HIKING / WALKING TRAILS
Trail- Los Molinos (The Mills)
Length: 1.3 km
Estimated duracion: 45 minutes
Height drop: 30m
Starting point: located in calle Los Molinos, Júzcar
Description: Of what was once four mills, there remain two, named Molino Sangre and Molino Harinero; they had alternating operation functionality, each building having had two buckets and two hydraulic shovels. The uneven level between the two buildings was sufficient to allow alternation of operations between them. One accesses these mills by crossing the 16th century Arab bridge which has a single eye and then on the other side is the mills’ water drainage running in front of the mill Harinero.
From here, one ascends the old Roman laid stone walk up and beyond leaving the mills behind and moving into the forest full of oaks. Following the trails which can be a bit precarious leading up to the river crossing. Watching your footing and cross the river; once crossed, one can locate a rope on the rocks to assit your ascent to what should be dry land and move passed the rocks toward the area with the river’s source, known as Rio Zúas.
The name of the river’s origin comes from the Arabic word “azud” (channel that leads water to a mill). Its water flow rate is a constant at approximately 623 liters of water per minute.
More trail info: RUTA LOS MOLINOS
(NOTE – this track is in poor condition, 01/03/2021)
Length: 3.2 km (one way)
Estimated duracion: 4.5 hours
Height drop: 200m
Starting point: located in calle Sol, Júzcar
Description: Moclón is an uninhabited Andalusian village located on the slopes of Sierra Bermeja, facing the village if Júzcar. In Monclón one can see its remaining abandoned houses and its de-consecreated church which has been transformed into a olive press.
History tells us that prior to the rise of the Moors, there were 18 residents inhabitating the village it, of which five were Christians. In 1570, its Moorish residents were expelled and the village re-populated under order of King Felipe II with six Christian families from Écija, Osuna, El Pedroso and Castellar de la Frontera.
In the first half of the 18th century, with the construction of the Royal Tin Factory of San Miguel in its parish, Monclón was left abandoned when its remaining inhabitants relocated for work in the aforementioned factory.
Trail- La Tenería & La Fábrica de Hojalata
(NOTE- 01-mar-2021, this track is in opoor condition)
Length: 2.5 km (one way)
Estimated duracion: 3.0 hours
Height drop: 200m
Starting point: located in View Point, San Jose, Júzcar
La Tenería:- Bark and vegetable mass mill to obtain tannins with which the skins were tanned in Arab times. It had a complex of alembic and flour mill, having the particularity of being the only one with a pressure bucket. It closed in the late 19th century due to phylloxera.
La Fabrica de Hojalata:- the first tin mill built in Spain. The decision to build in this location was due to the abundance of timber in this valley and its mountain range, both indispensable for the production of charcoal required for smelting. It started producing in mid-1731 under the name of “The Royal Never Before Seen in Spain Mill of Tin Sheet and its Adherents.” As of 2020, it is a privately held finca with its own wine producing vineyard.
Nature Sports Activities
Canyoning – La Sima del Diablo
SEASON: Year round (exception when water inundation)
Height Drop : 50m
Route Length: 1.1 km
Location : Road MA-7301, direction Júzcar – Faraján. At 1.4km, there is a left hand exit for a dirt track , it is sign posted for “Barranco Sima del Diablo”.
Description: The canyoning runs entirely in a typical riverside forest; it has four cascades to rappel, three of eight metres and one of ten metres. It is a tourist adventure activity in high demand since it is considered an initiation canyon-activity. Its level of difficulty is low both in accessing and exiting the activity make it quite suitable for novice adventurers with little to no experience.
Required materials:- A rope of 20 meters, complete neoprene in winter, [in summer it can be of short neoprene and swimsuit] and medicine kit. It is advisable to have to hand auxiliary rope and maillons (hitches) in case of any unforeseen difficulties encountered. This is a consolidated tourist source noted by the thousands of visits it receives annually.
Canyoning – Majales
DURATION: 3H with water, 2H dry conditions
SEASON: Year round (except when water indundation)
Height Drop : 200m
Route Length: 2.0 km
Location : Road MA-7303 direction Júzcar – Cartajima. About 50 meters passed road-marker 03 km, there is a left hand exit sign posted for Los Riscos; immediately turn right and follow up the right hand side track, (sign posted:- Los Riscos – Barranco Majales).
Description: Very nice canyon when there is water. The first section is somewhat more “heavy”, since, at all times we are covered by oleanders plants but as the canyon progresses, it opens and becomes more spectacular from the middle of the route to the end. It has ten rappellings ranging from four to 15 meters in height. After the rains is when you can most enjoy the ravine, in late spring and in summer the ravine is usually dry.
Required materials:- Rope of 30 meters, 100% neopreno in winter (swimsuit is advisable in summer months) and medical kit. It is advisable to have auxiliary rope and maillones (hitches) in case of unexpected difficulties encountered.
Other Tourist Interests
Source of Rio Zúas
The water’s sulphate content is such that it prevents development of many plants and animals. The water is used for irrigation of orchards via the centuries old acequia, an arab built irragation system that continues to operate in modern times. In summer and times of little rain it is also the source of the village’s potable water supply.