Barbacana y Molinos del Tajo (Barbican and the Mills of the Tagus, Ronda) (Unique Site and Hydraulic heritage)
Recommended month to visit it: June.
In Ronda we find one of the most interesting ethnographic complexes of the Serranía de Ronda: fourteen Moorish mills which rely on one single canal situated at the other side of the Puente del Tajo [Bridge of the Tajo] and that were active until mid-19th Century.
The barbican, a mediaeval defensive structure, served as support for the eastern walled enclosure of Ronda. This area had two gates, the Puerta del Viento [Gate of the Wind] and the Puerta de los Molinos [Gate of the Mills], also known as Arco del Cristo [Arch of the Christ]. It protected a small stone paved road that gave access to the mills and which runs sheltered by the wall. If we start from Campillo square, the visit to the area constitutes one of the most pleasing walks among the many one can enjoy in Ronda. From here the views of the ravine of el Tajo are marvellous.
- Trail start: 306516 / 4068013
- Mills: 306546 / 4068192
• Heritage Value: Medium
• Landscape Value: High
• Condition: Medium state of repair
• Type of hydraulic structure: Industrial
• Stage of the Great Málaga Path: Stage 23. El Burgo - Ronda
• Location: Ronda
• Period: 13th /14th century
• Architect: Unknown
• UTM Coordinates: 306401,1065, 4068155,716
There is a barbican hidden in the beautiful surrounding of Ronda. This is a medieval retaining structure; a fortified gateway that served as an outer defence to a tower, castle or any other fortification, which was situated over a gate or a bridge, and steady enough to be used for defensive purposes.
That is how it is defined. Behind the west walls of Ronda, its two preserved gates (the Wind Gate and the Mill Gate of the Arch of Christ) make an inner space that was considered “albacar” (space for keeping cattle). Nevertheless, its steep form and its closeness to the Mill of the Tagus make us believe that the wall was used to protect the access to the mentioned mills. Behind a mud wall, there is a pebbled path, laid out over the dry-stone base with a peculiar zip shape, which aim is to make the steep terrain easier to access.
There are fourteen mills that depend on one irrigation channel placed on the other side of the bridge of the Tagus, starting from a river bed dam called “azud”. Their origins are Arabic, and they were used until the first half of the 20th century. The mills are one of the most interesting ethnographic buildings in the Serranía de Ronda due to their water pipe system, milling and other particular features.
The mills are in bad condition, considering that they were taken to pieces during the installation of the first of hydraulics power factories that provided Ronda with electricity. Due to a landslide in 1919, three of the mills got under the ground together with their residents.
Today, after the works that were done to make the access more approachable, you can go for an enjoyable stroll, as in many other places of this area. The view over the Tagus, vegetable gardens and woods on the bank of Guadalevín, or the imposing geological structure of the vertical walls, make the stroll down to the Arch of Christ worth the effort, although the way back is uphill, something typical for Ronda.