However beautiful this building: the Casa del Rey Moro actually never was the home of the Moorish King. It was built in the 18th Century only, long after the Moorish had been chased out of the area. It does however incorporate one genuine relic of Ronda’s Moorish occupation: the Water Mine.
The Casa del Rey Moro was built in the 18th Century only, long after the Moorish had been chased out of the area. The Moorish gardens are even more recent; these have been designed by Jean Claude Forestier, a well known French landscape gardener in 1912.
However, the house definitely does incorporate one genuine relic of Ronda’s Moorish occupation: the Water Mine.
In the 14th Century, during the wars between the Moors of Granada and the Christians of Seville, Ronda was frequently besieged, and the first target of any besieging army was always the water supply. Ronda’s Moorish king, Abomelik, used Christian captives to cut steps into the stone walls of the gorge. Thus they could bring water up from the río Guadelevin below to the location where later the Casa del Rey Moro was built. Many captives did not survive this hard labour; the saying amongst the Christians was that
“in Ronda you die carrying water skins”
The staircase had fallen into disrepair, but was restored in 1911. It has almost 300 steps. When you consider undertaking the descent, please note that even after the repair the steps are uneven, occasionally damp, and in many places badly lit.
During the descent you will pass through several chambers. The most striking one is the Sala de Secretos – Room of Secrets. The room was built to house a well, however the Moors noticed that the room had one bizarre characteristic. While two people, standing at opposite ends of the room close to the wall, can speak perfectly well to each other, for anyone standing in the center their words are completely inaudible.
When you make it to the final door, you emerge to a scene of undisturbed tranquillity at the very bottom of the gorge.
You will only hear the singing of birds and the quiet lapping of the water.
The bad news is: you must now climb the almost 300 steps back up to Moorish gardens of the Casa del Rey Moro!