Gaucin

Embraced by the dramatic terrain of the Serranía de Ronda, Gaucín was once a sleepy, sun-bleached mountain village.  Nowadays, its inhabitants manage to blend a centuries-old way of life with a burgeoning interest from cosmopolitan visitors seeking an idyllic holiday hideaway or a  permanent home in the tranquil heart of Andalucía - reputed to have the best climate in Europe!

This enchanting 'Pueblo Blanco' is overlooked by the striking Medieval 'Castillo del Aguila' that dominates the craggy skyline and is superbly illuminated against the dark night skies.  The Castle of Eagles has stunning panoramic views and gets its name from the many raptors, such as Griffon vultures, eagles, honey buzzards and kites, soaring across the blue skies overhead.

Gaucín's pretty narrow streets entwine rows of white-painted houses with red-tiled roofs, cloaks of bougainvillea and 'hanging gardens' of exotic pot plants.  Walking through the village you will still encounter the occasional mule carrying its load of logs or fresh produce to and fro .. but more often posing for photographs!

The economy of Gaucín used to be typical of remote hamlets to be found deep in the Andalusian countryside and was based mainly on bartering goods and labour, using mules to carry produce along the narrow mountain tracks.  As well as local produce, the mules would carry salted fish from the coastal ports… not to mention contraband cigarettes and alcohol!!  But how times have changed.. today these secret 'smugglers routes' have become way-marked walking paths popular with hikers!

Driving inland around Gaucin takes you along quiet mountain roads through the cork-oak forests that produce an abundance of acorns, a valuable source of food for wild boar and Iberian black pigs.  More importantly, these forests are of great economic value and are considered to be national treasures by the Government. The bark from the cork-oaks is only cut every nine years and is an age-old tradition requiring great skill that has been passed from one generation to the next.

Only 40 minutes away through the tumbling mountains lies the historical town of RONDA, popular with international visitors and the home of Spain's oldest bullring, Plaza de Toros, built in 1784.  The town straddles the famous El Tajo Gorge, a plunging 300m ravine spanned by a centuries-old bridge - certainly not for those who suffer from vertigo!  The 'Puente Nuevo' (new bridge!) across the gorge was completed in 1793.  Legend has it, that the architect fell to his death from the bridge during his final inspection whilst trying to catch his hat that had blown off in the wind!  Both Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway resided in Ronda for many years, writing about its history and beauty, thus adding to its popularity with tourists.

Gaucin has an interesting, friendly mix of nationalities blending into the local community and enjoying a gentle pace of life, magnificent scenery, stunning views and a lovely climate.  Inevitably, more visitors are discovering these delights resulting in the advent of several up-market restaurants, a couple of stylish boutique hotels, several new tapas bars, a larger supermarket, a  delicatessen and an antique/gift shop.

There is a surprising variety of leisure activities available. For those who enjoy country pursuits: walking, hiking, riding, trekking, bird-watching & even fungus hunting!  For the sports-minded: tennis, swimming (summer only), yoga, pilates and golf (nearest course is only ½ hr away).  For those seeking a more sedate lifestyle, there are numerous music events, a choir (always looking for recruits!), painting classes, book clubs and bridge groups. There is also a thriving community of artists with  the occasional 'open studio' weekend