The Casa del Rey Moro is included on the Ronda tourist route. V.M.
The 18th century building known as the Casa del Rey Moro (the House of the Moorish King) looks set to becoming Ronda’s first luxury hotel, sooner or later. The property is currently in the hands of a German businessman who bought it armed with plans for a top hotel with innovative features.
However so far the project has failed to see the light and the building stands neglected, gradually deteriorating before the uncomprehending eyes of thousands of tourists. Indeed the Casa del Rey Moro is included as one of the star features on the tour of local monuments; but it looks like it could fall down any minute.
Now the building has attracted more investors prepared to buy it, restore it and turn it into a five star hotel. The current and future urban development plans both allow the site to be used for tourist accommodation.
Interest has apparently increased since the Town Hall announced that it would apply for the Junta de Andalucía to list the building as a BIC, a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ (an asset of cultural interest), which would guarantee its protection as historical heritage.
The local councillor for Planning, Daniel Harillo, explained that the authority’s aim was to put pressure on the current owner, Jochen Knie, to carry out urgent work on the house, or face a possible compulsory purchase order in the future.
“We want to protect one of our town’s most valuable monuments”, said the councillor who stressed that Knie already faces a 60,000 euros fine for not keeping the building in line with safety regulations.
The German owner has shown no opposition to the house being declared a BIC although he believes that this is a first step towards expropriation. Knie did embark on a 2.5 million euro restoration project, however the house suffered a small fire that the owner considers to be an arson attack.
The German had previously announced an investment of 21 million euros to restore the property, set up a five star hotel and a mini-congress centre, even making part of the Guadalevín river navigable through the Tajo gorge. The scheme would create 50 jobs directly and an estimated 150 posts indirectly. The project has changed, however, and Knie’s latest plans centred around a venue for private functions with accommodation possibilities.
While authorities and business owners endeavour to find a way of bringing the Casa del Rey Moro back to life, the condition of the building is gradually deteriorating. It needs urgent work to make the façade and the structure safe and to prevent the roof leaking.
The buildings known as La Mina, down the gorge from the house, already have BIC status.