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El Caminito del Rey – A Bit of its History

A suspended walkway anchored in the rock of the Sierra Huma, hanging from the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, that is the Caminito del Rey, a path that seems born of a dream and not of what is really born, of the need to unite by the shortest path two hydroelectric facilities.

This engineering work was at the time a complicated feat, a pharaonic work in which it was necessary to employ, as masons, fishermen who were used to hanging from the rigging of their sailing wafers, due to the difficulty of the terrain and the need for workers to hang from rocks in order to carry out construction work.

The Caminito del Rey is a hanging walkway that was built between 1901 and 1905 to join two dams that the company Sociedad Hidroeléctrica del Chorro used as waterfalls to generate electricity. It was about the Salto del Chorro and the Salto del Gaitanejo, today the beginning and end of the Caminito after its recent reform. The Camino began at the Chorro Station, next to the train tracks, and allowed the passage of workers and materials, in addition to facilitating the surveillance of the facilities.

When the Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir was under construction, visits to the area of ​​friends and family of the chief engineer, Rafael Benjumea Burín, became frequent. The views that could be seen from many points of the way were of such beauty that Benjumea, a great lover of nature, wanted to make the path more and more comfortable and decided to improve it, reforming the bridge between the two sides of the gorge, which was designed by the civil engineer Eugenio Rivera.

This small bridge is the most visible and well-known image of the road, since the image of the two rock walls joined by the so-called Balconcillo de los Gaitanes is one of the most reproduced in the province.

When the Conde del Guadalhorce reservoir finished being built in 1921, King Alfonso XIII visited the works, touring the entire Caminito. Since then, he was baptized as Caminito del Rey. In the book “El Chorro, a hundred years of History”, by Sebastián Lara Centella, the royal visit is described as follows:

The day dawned cloudy, and a series of intermittent showers marred the inauguration celebrations and made the visit more painful, which It already required a trip with stages by train and road. However, the king was cordial and good-humored and listened with pleasure to all the explanations that Benjumea gave him about the facilities, which he wanted to know in detail. A lunch was served for more than two hundred diners, to which personalities, authorities, engineers and journalists were invited. To desserts, The Minister of Public Works gave a speech in which he highlighted the importance of public works and the example that the Pantano del Chorro represented for the nation, due to its success in harmonizing industrial and agricultural use. 

After lunch, in pouring rain, the King set out to lay the last stone. For the King to sign the act of inauguration, a table and an armchair had been carved in the same stone used in the construction of the reservoir. The act signed by Alfonso XIII reads as follows: Reigning the Catholic Majesty of Alfonso XIII, on May 21, 1921, the works of the Pantano del Chorro were completed, and the last stone was placed by the august hand of the Spanish monarch, by whose important life made vows all those who honor themselves by stamping their signature after that of HM After the ceremony, The King and his companions visited the Gaitanejo dam, and crossed the Balcón de los Gaitanes, which had been adorned with a garland supported by four stuffed eagles, on which one could read: “To the King.” Alfonso XIII was so impressed by the panorama that can be seen from there that he wanted to be photographed to immortalize his visit to the place.

Soon we will tell you more about its deterioration in recent years and its recent restoration and reopening, for now we leave you this link where you can see more images of its history, restoration and environment.

If you want to know this natural wonder you have all our visits here .


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