Industrial Heritage of Hydropower
Twenty million years ago, three rivers, which were trapped between the Baetic Mountains and destined to end up in the great Andalusian river Guadalquivir, changed their course. The steep terrain and the subsequent division of the old sea sediments, after they had suffered the consequences of the collision of the African tectonic plate against the Eurasian one, resulted in a geological change and the rivers found a shorter way to the Mediterranean.
A narrow way that got opened, a progressive elevation of stratum, and a mechanic water erosion which had been taking place for seven million years, created a hundred-metre-deep canyon. Therefore, the Gaitanes Gorge or Desfiladero de los Gaitanes is an exception, a geological discontinuity, where three rivers, Turón, Guadalteba and Guadalhorce disorderly and roughly merge at the entrance of a canyon which, due to their pressure, turns into majestic rocky walls that hold rushing, sparkling river waters.
At least half a million years ago, this natural sight in the south of the European continent spontaneously evolved into an ideal habitat for plants and animals, and, due to the warm weather, for humans too. In the Gaitanes Gorge, humans have always found water, shelter, food, and raw material, and they built a complex symbolic world around it, which they named home. However, it could be said that this confined, shady, remote area had been far away from historical events for centuries or even millenniums. It was too narrow to go through, too small to live in, and too far, too high, too everything. So, it wasn't until the late19th century, when some curious people came to this remote site of natural value because the prosperous town of Málaga was in need of energy.
This is when the story of the rock which trapped the water begins (rivers, geology, reservoirs, canals and pipes). Water brought life (animals, plants, culture, irrigation systems and development), and the life used water to create power (reservoirs, dams, power plants, engineering, railways and industry) at this special place, better known as the Caminito del Rey all around the world.
The history of this place inspired this proposal for nomination of the Caminito del Rey as an Industrial Heritage of Hydropower, based on five main aspects:
1. Gaitanejo Power Plant - the main point of the proposal from technological and artistic angle.
2. The old Caminito del Rey, a trail, which still exists, made for the builders of the plant. Its importance lies in its natural beauty and cultural value.
3. The technology used for Ribera water bridge or aqueduct and the Conde del Guadalhorce and Gaitanejo dams, as well as for the connection with the railway Bobadilla-Málaga (tunnels and viaducts) and El Chorro Train Station.
4. The efficient and intensive use of water to produce electricity and for irrigation systems (irrigation channels in the Guadalhorce valley).
5. Other aspects such as human presence throughout the history, geology and the industrialization process in the area (El Chorro, Benjumea house, the chapel and school, and so on) and in Málaga.
The above aspects can be summed up in three important landmarks:
- El Chorro/Conde de Guadalhorce and Gaitanejo dams
- The boardwalks which are fixed on the wall above El Chorro precipice
- El Chorro Train Station and the bridges over the Gaitanes Gorge.
All the outstanding heritage should belong to humankind as an everlasting legacy. In order to make sure these aims are achieved there is to perform the registration and conservation of the sites. Therefore, any proposal to be included on the World Heritage List has to be not only supported by certain people and institutions but also by the public that confirms the real value of the site.
This is why we want to present the nomination of El Caminito del Rey Path (the King's Little Pathway) and its surroundings for the inclusion on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. The proposal is based on several monuments, placed along less than 20 kilometres, which are part of our history and you will surely love them. Of these elements of the surroundings, four stand out: the Natural Beauty Spot Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, the Palaeolithic Cave in Ardales, las Aguilillas Necropolis and the Bobastro Mozarabic cave country chapel.
The unique natural surroundings have allowed the industrial development of the area and gave us places such as the path and dramatic scenery, which can be considered as one of the most beautiful in the whole world.
The nomination of El Caminito del Rey path and its surroundings are presented by the County Council of Málaga, and deserve to be applauded by the society. This is why we would like to be provided with the support of the public bodies, institutions, associations, companies and people who are fond of and believe in this natural and cultural heritage which we would like to preserve for future generations and express its outstanding value.
In order to include our proposal on the Spanish Government List, it is crucial to justify Outstanding Universal Value of each of the above sites. We are convinced they all have it, and that we have seven reasons to ask you to give your support to our proposal (check the form).
The 'path' that leads to this nomination starts with your support. We would like you to walk with us.
If you are interested in getting the book "Caminito del Rey y su entorno. Candidatura a Patrimonio Mundial de la UNESCO", download the file at this link (at the moment only in Spanish). If you also want to know the monuments of this nomination, click here to view the video that we have made in this regard.