Casa del Rey Moro
Gardens and Historic Building in Ronda
The Casa del Rey Moro or House of the Moorish King is an 18th century building in Ronda, Spain. The building is named after a tile on the facade, representing a Moorish king.
What to see at the Casa del Rey Moro
There are three elements that make up the Casa del Rey Moro:
- A Muslim-era water mine
- A Neo-Mudejar-style house
- Moorish style hanging gardens, designed by Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, built in 1912 and declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1943.
The Muslim-era water mine at Casa del Rey Moro
The entry to the well is in the gardens. The Islamic staircase of 231 sloping steps get slippery are poorly illuminated and narrow in places, so use caution when descending into the rooms below. As you go down the stairs, you will pass by several halls:
- The Sala de la Noria, named for the large Ferris wheel which would be used to extract water. The wheel would have been operated by Christian slaves.
- The Weapons Room, where equipment was kept, the garrison was housed and attacks were repelled with arrows or boiling liquids.
- The Room of Secrets, is where the well is. If you stand against one wall and ask a fellow guest to stand against the opposite wall, then ask another to stand in the center of the room. Whisper a secret message while you are standing against the wall, then listen to the response from the person opposite you. You’ll hear each other, but the guest in the center of the room won’t hear a thing. This is a curious sound effect caused by its dome.
- At the lowest part of this tower, a small open door to the river served as an escape.
History of the Water Mine at the Casa del Rey Moro
The water mine was built in the 14th century and formed part of the defensive fortifications of the town. The purpose of the well was to draw water from the river to safely supply it to the walled population in cases of siege. It is is one of the main hydraulic engineering works built in the Nasrid Kingdom during the time.
An existing crack in the walls of the Tagus gorge was widened and steps were carved into the rock to allow people to descend the 60 meters to the bottom.
It was at this point that Christian troops forced entry in 1485.
Legend of the King Almonated at Casa del Rey Moro
Legend says that this was the residence of the Moorish King, Almonated, who is said to have drank wine from the skulls of his enemies! Although more recent evidence seems to indicate that the King never actually lived in the building.
The Gardens of Casa del Rey Moro
It has three terraces which are joined by staircases decorated with colored tiles, fountains linked by a water channel and a careful combination of botanical species. These beautiful, serene gardens surrounding the house and provide dramatic views of the Tajo, the Puente Nuevo, and the surrounding countryside.
The landscaped terraces were the work of French landscape architect Jean-Claude Forestier in 1912. He created a Mediterranean garden, which combined the influence of the classical Hispano-Muslim garden with the geometric design of the French garden. Forestier was also responsible for the design of Seville’s Parque de María Luisa.