History of Gaucín


The Romans penetrated through the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda from the coast through Gaucin, taking advantage of river beds to build roads. Stretches of the Roman “Path of Gibraltar” still exist with the original Roman paving. This path began along the coast near the mouth of the  Guadiaro river, with a paved branch that passed by the Roman city of Lacipo (Casares), crossed the Genal river and then continued up towards Gaucin, connecting with Arunda (Ronda).  For Julius Caesar’s soldiers, Gaucin was a place to rest after the battle in the village of Monda (Province of Malaga) against  the sons of Pompey. Gaucin’s first castle, of which there are no remains, was built by the Romans.


The Arabs-In 714 the Moorish General Tarik invaded Spain through Gibraltar, using Roman roads to continue on his conquest. The Arabs called the village Sajra Guazan, which means «strong rock» or «strategically located crag». The first historical note referring to the village, provided by Muqtavis V, goes back to the year 914 during the campaign against Belda.
The King Ferdinand the Catholic sent the Lord of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Alfonso Perez de Guzman, known as Guzmán el Bueno, to contain the incursions of the Arabs. Guzman died on the 17th of September 1309, fighting against the muslims in a place called «Prados de León» (Gaucin)


The English (XVIII Century) seized Gibraltar en 1704, and the parish priest of Gaucin, fearing that the village would be plundered, hid the church’s treasures. Finally the British did not come near the village. At the end of the century the cooler mountain temperatures of Gaucin attracted many people from Gibraltar for the summer months, who stayed at the Hotel Nacional, currently known as Restaurante La Fonda.


The French (XIX Century) invaded Gaucin in 1808 during the Napoleonic wars. The 700 inhabitants of the village tried to defend the castle, without success. The French took a canon up to the castle, plundered the village, destroyed the Carmelite convent and expropriated its treasures.

The occupation of Gaucin by the French impoverished the village, where banditry (Manuel Flores “el caparota” [the torn cape]) became a common trade. The bandits lived in caves and robbed travellers and villagers alike, killing them if necessary. However, these bandits are not to be confused with the smugglers who brought many English products from Gibraltar to the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga. Bandits and smugglers were the source of inspiration for Prosper Merimée’s novel, adapted by Georges Bizet in the opera Carmen. It has been proven that Gaucin, and not Ronda, was the location of the opera’s third act.