We love discovering new places. Today we present to you Genalguacil, the open-air art museum village, a literally very picturesque white village, situated at 500 m above sea level in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda.
To make it clear from the beginning: Genalguacil is one of these villages that you have to be eager to reach. Forget about getting there by bus, you need a car hire to get there. And be prepared for many bends on secondary roads through forests of pine, cork and chestnut trees that in autumn offer a spectacular display of colours.
You can’t rush to Genalguacil. To begin with, because there are so many curves that you cannot go faster than 40 km/h on average. And it’s good for us to reduce the speed a little, literally, by moving away from the busy Costa del Sol, we enter another way of life, welcome to slow travel!
Genalguacil, the open-air art museum village
This white village of Arabic heritage with just over 400 inhabitants is situated about 36 km from Estepona in the Genal Valley in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda. For these 36 km you can easily plan a 1-hour car ride or more.
To get to the village, we pass from Estepona through the Sierra Bermeja Natural Park, which is 1,400 metres high, from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the entire Costa del Sol, the Rock of Gibraltar and, on clear days, the African coast.
Genalguacil Art Encounters
This small white village stands out for its Art Encounters that take place every two years, during which international painters, sculptors, photographers or ceramists live together with the inhabitants of the village.
The pieces of art created during this time are on permanent display throughout the village, making it an open-air art museum. It is a visual delight and surprising at the same time, to open the field of vision and find some work of art in the most unsuspected corners, in facades, roofs, corners, squares and streets of this small village.
There are already more than 200 artists who have left their mark on the village since 1994. There is also a Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2004 which houses all the works that cannot be exposed to the weather outside.
During the Art Encounters, Genalguacil is full of activities, live music, theatre, workshops and conferences for all types of audiences that complement the activity of the artists. The next edition will be in the first half of August 2022.
Here you can take a little virtual tour of Genalguacil
Surroundings of Genalguacil
The Genal Valley is a wonder of forests and lots of water, due to numerous streams; even after a long summer and without having rained yet, when we went, the river had enough water to cool us down. The abundant forests of this great natural spot are made up of firs, cork oaks and many chestnut trees.
From one village to another there are old routes for walking or going to the river. Most of the routes run through lush forests of pines, oaks, cork oaks and plots of almond, olive, chestnut and cherry trees, which makes it very pleasant in summer. We can also highlight the numerous “Ventas” (Inns) in the area, where you will find very friendly people and exquisite home-cooked food.
If you have a few days, stay at least one night to get the most out of this tour. Make sure you always bring enough water, sunscreen and a sun hat. If you want to make a route in nature, it is also very important to have suitable footwear and perhaps take some energy bars in addition to water.
The villages are of a very old layout from a time long before the existence of the car. Some streets are extremely steep and only one way. Jubrique for example, the neighbouring village where we stayed, is a very steep village, with 300 metres difference between its highest and lowest point. The slope to go down by car is impressively steep.
So here is our general advice for visits to any white village: Park at the entrance to the village and do not go in with your car.
Believe me, it’s good advice that will save you stressful situations where you have to manoeuvre your car in very narrow and steep places. The villages are usually a pleasant size to walk around, always bearing in mind that they are all located on hillsides and therefore there is quite a difference in altitude within the same village.
How to get to Genalguacil
Located in the heart of the Genal Valley, Genalguacil is situated 36 km from Estepona, 65 km from Marbella and 120 km from Malaga.
Trying to reach Genalguacil by bus is more of a nightmare than a joy, so we advise against it. There is only one bus a day from Ronda.
By car, we have to get to Estepona, either by the N-340 or the A-7 and from there drive up the MA-8301 towards Sierra Bermeja. At the Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja junction, continue on the MA-8304 towards Genalguacil.