The Serrania de Ronda region of the Spanish province of Malaga is home to the village of Gaucin, which sits at 608 meters above sea level and has 1,842 residents.
In the area of “Loma de Enmedio”, just 4km away from Gaucin, the remnants of an ancient necropolis can be found. Although this points to an occupation of the area by an ancient civilisation, there is a commonly held belief that it was the Romans who founded the village, mainly due to the fact that there are remains of Roman buildings just 8km away in Casa del Abrevadero.
As was the case in many Roman occupied regions, roadways were an integral part of the communication network and this area is no exception. Paved roads can be found between Gibraltar and Ronda and the Romans used the dry river beds and Valle de Guadiaro to have the roads go up to the mines at Los Reales and Hacho de Gaucin, passing through Lacipo on the way.
The village of Gaucin is characterized by the steepness of its streets and the multitude of steps built as a result of this. The whitewashed houses of the village, built in the style popularised by the Muslims, make it one of the most beautiful of the Sierra de Ronda region. During the 19th century, many artists were attracted to the village as they had a ready source of inspiration at their disposal.
The Castille de Gaucin, now in ruins, once sat proudly on the tallest of the peaks in the inhabited area. Three wells and an excavation, possibly an Arab escape route, can be found in the immediate vicinity of the building and to the west is the San Nino chapel, used at one time as barracks for the soldiers of the castle.
The restored San Sebastian parish church, which dates back to the 16th century, is located in the centre of the village and is just one of many important monuments that are part of the village’s heritage. Others include the 18th century Fuente de los Seis Canos and grand houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The skill of the craftsmen during the periods in which these houses were built can still be seen in the intricate designs of the balconies and doors.
The villagers of Gaucin celebrate one of their fiestas, the Romeria de San Juan, by vacating the village for the day and spending their time in the surrounding countryside in an event involving a great deal of dancing and music, which goes on long into the night.
Another of the fiestas, The Toro de Cuerda which occurs on Easter Sunday, is one of the ‘running of the bulls’ in which large numbers of (mainly) young men try to prove how brave they are by running in front of the charging animals.
The Feria de Agosto, is held in the 2nd week of August and is a fiesta in honour of the Virgen de las Nieves with another fiesta on the last Sunday of August celebrating the day Jesus appeared as a child to San Juan de Dios in 1536.
Gaucin cuisine is derived from the traditional agricultural products from the region, which is evident by the fact that each of the seasons brings its own delicacies. For example, spring is when dishes including the season’s wild herbs, fennel and asparagus can be enjoyed. Gazpacho, which is a soup served cold in summer, is another typical dish of the region, but the people of Gaucin also eat it hot during the winter months. Winter also brings another of their favourite dishes to the table; called Migas, it is made up of breadcrumbs in olive oil and is served with fish and fruits such as melon, olives and grapes.
Pork and rabbit are popular meats that are used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes as are the Spanish style stews that include chickpeas. These are year round dishes and are not really season dependant as much as the other traditional recipes and with the people of the Valle del Genal area enjoying a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables they can only be complimented on their healthy, balanced diet.
About the Author: