Next, we will present some of the places from this area due to their beauty and history . These are:
- The bus stop at El Kiosko Restaurant
- The village at the Count of Guadalhorce Dam
- The King's Chair (El Sillón del Rey)
- Luis Morales Viewpoint
The shuttle has several stops. The last one is at El Kiosko Restaurant, where some car parks, all free except one,. A recreation area, where you can camp, do water sports or have a meal, can be found very close as well. A series of services are available, such as a restaurant, bar, beverage, toilets, and so on, in case you need to prepare yourself for the journey which can take several hours. The closest spot is the Control Point at the northern access, where two paths start. One of them is shorter (1.5 km), and the other one is 2.7 km long. They both lead to Gaitanejo Dam, the entrance to El Caminito del Rey and the start of the official path.
You will be able to see the first tunnel from the bus stop, after you leave the reservoir behind you. The first route, which is 2.7 km, long starts right after the tunnel and stretches to the beginning of the path El Caminito del Rey. Walking upwards, there is another tunnel on the right. It is small and pedestrian, and leads to the Control Point which is 1.5 km away. Finally, just a bit further away, you will find Luis Morales Viewpoint, where you can have a wonderful view over the Count of Guadalhorce Reservoir.
This is where the outset of the route that goes through unique surroundings is. You will see three large reservoirs – the one which was built first, called Conde de Guadalhorce, the Guadalhorce and the Guadalteba – until you arrive at Gaitanejo Dam. The Count of Gudalhorce Reservoir is in the area which is very often used for picnic, camping or active tourism activities that have to do with water sports and can be performed in the recreation area.
This small village is placed at El Chorro Dam in Ardales, and it sheltered workers, above all sailors, who participated in works on the hydraulic buildings, as well as their families. Therefore, the origin of this village in Ardales comes from the need of the workers to settle close to the dams, canals and the service pathway (which will become El Camnito del Rey Path) which were being built. All of these were projects run by chief engineer Rafael Benjumea. The village had a school-chapel and a shop in the canteen, where people could buy groceries and basic products. There was another settlement at the Chorro Hydroelectric Power Station and Dam, at the way out of the gorge in Álora, with chapel, shop, houses and offices. Only two unfortunately fatal accidents happened at the above building sites.
We shall now talk about Rafael Benjumea Burín (1876-1952). He was an engineer who built the Chorro Dam, named the Count of Guadalhorce Reservoir after him later on. This was a title this engineer received by King Alfonso XIII for his architectural achievement, after he had built canals, hydroelectric power stations, bridges, villages for the workers, their offices, storages, houses, a church, etc. Moreover, he was the Minister of Public Works.
The place where the dam was built, besides power production, was meant to provide water for fertile plain Hoya, which is 50 km long and 20 km wide and stretches in the Valley of Gudalahorce. Its name means 'the wheat river' in Arabic. The dam was used to control the flaw for El Chorro Hydroelectric Power Station, which had depended on the rainfall before that. The mayor change was the use of electrical machinery, such as pumps, concrete mixers, or cranes, which were supplied by the network laid from the station. In order to use less cement, as there was not enough of it due to the First World War, large dry-stone pillars were set for the cranes over the 20-m-long foundation below the river bed.
One of the biggest attractions in the area around the reservoirs is the place called 'Sillón del Rey' [The King's Chair], which consists of two benches, a stone chair and a table, where King Alfonso XIII signed the end of works on the Count of Guadalhorce Reservoir. The original complex was lower as it got higher after having been placed on a new semicircular arch that had been laid on the previous one in 1944. The document signed by the king says the following: 'During the rule of His Catholic Majesty Alfonso XIII, the works on El Chorro Reservoir were finished on 21st May 1921, and the last stone was placed by the hand of the august Spanish monarch, and those who proudly sign below have prayed for His important life.'
King Alfonso XIII placed the last stone on this impressive dam on May 21st 1921 in the heavy rain. Interestingly, the last stone placed by the King was the holivela, a kind of stone that was used by Roman engineers in building. The stone chair and table were added to make this solemn opening more ceremonial.
It is also worth mentioning that there was to build a path used for maintaining and building a water canal from the reservoirs in the north (firstly the Count of Guadalhorce Reservoir) to El Chorro, where the inclination was used in order to build a hydroelectric power station. The above path was called El Caminito del Rey [the King's Little Pathway] after King Alfonso XIII, who had visited it on the day when the works had started.
Some stairs and a small elevated circular structure over the car park compose a small viewpoint called 'Luis Morales', from where the Engineer's House or 'Administration House', with an arbour and a jetty, can be seen, as well as the great part of the reservoir. El Chorro Reservoir, which was subsequently named after the Count of Guadalorce Reservoir, was the first to be built in 1924 and widen in 1944. It was meant to provide power and control the water supply of the Guadalhorce Plain in order to improve crops production. Gaitanejo Dam, which was placed downstream, was finished some time later in 1927. As for the Guadateba and the Guadalhorce Reservoirs, they were built between 1966 and 1973. You can admire wonderful view of the area and the above reservoirs from Los Embalses [The Reservoirs] Viewpoint, which is easy to access from the Restaurant El Mirador.
The Engineer's House or 'Administration House', where Rafael Benjumea stayed, can be seen from the King's Chair, but it is closed for visitors. This picturesque building with unique form and location rises on the peninsula in the reservoir, right in front of the village, and has Ardales countryside and the Alcaparaín Mountains in the background. The arbour, jetty and stairs make the house even more special. This is where the lunch with Alfonso XIII was celebrated on 21st May 1921 when the reservoir was opened.
The house was built by Rafael Benjumea in 1920, and it has two floors and three sections. First two are at the same level and they are covered in green glass tiles and narrow chimneys with small roofs. The third section is covered in a terrace with white iron rail that offers excellent views. The facade is composed of straight cornices which mark the separation between two floors. The spaces between the pillars is vertical and rectangular with segmental arches, although the right part of the building has a green round arch. The locks are iron and street lamps made of metal. There are also gardens, pergolas, an arbour, stairs and a jetty.