This study investigated the phylogeographic structure of Cistus ladanifer, in order to locate its Quaternary refugia, reconstruct its recolonisation patterns and assess the role of geographical features (mountain ranges, rivers and the Strait of Gibraltar) as barriers to its seed flow and expansion through the Western Mediterranean. Thirty-eight populations were screened for length variation of polymorphic chloroplast simple sequence repeats (cpSSRs). Statistical analyses included estimation of haplotypic diversity, hierarchical analysis of molecular variation (amova) and fixation indices. Mantel tests, SAMOVA and BARRIER analyses were applied to evaluate the geographical partitioning of genetic diversity across the entire species range. Pollen data from bibliography were used to complement molecular inferences. Chlorotype diversity within populations was similar throughout the natural range of C. ladanifer (mean haplotypic diversity = 0.32). High differentiation among populations was estimated (GST = 0.60). Our data suggest that the barriers of the Strait of Gibraltar and the Betic ranges may have favoured the divergence during glacial periods of four different lineages of populations inferred with SAMOVA. The main northward colonisation of in the Iberian Peninsula occurred from refugia in southwest Iberia. This process may have been influenced by human activities (forest clearance, livestock grazing and even commerce) in the Iberian Peninsula. In contrast, populations in the Betic area have conserved a specific haplotype.