Category Archives: Ronda

Ronda city is one of the most picturesque destinations in Spain, and the third most visited city in Andalucía. Popular sites to see are the Puente Nuevo bridge, the Plaza de Toros Bullring, Ronda’s cathedral, the historic Arab Baths, and much more.

In the Ronda Mountains you’ll find the beautiful white villages of Andalucía, including the most popular, Grazalema, Setenil de las Bodegas, Zahara de la Sierra, Genalguacil

Plaza del Socorro

Andalusia, Plaza del Socorro and Blas Infante

Visitors to Ronda are often confused about why our central plaza features a statue of a semi-naked man with two lions by his side and a couple of pillars behind him. What is their significance, and why do so many people take photos of the fountain?

The answer lies in Andalusian nationalism and one of the most important events in recent Andalusian political history, the Assembly of Ronda in 1918 when the father of Andalusian nationalism, Blas Infante, unfurled the flag and symbols of Andalusia whilst standing on the first floor balcony of the ‘Circulo de Artistas’; the building directly behind the fountain with red CA lettering above the windows.

Andalusians are justifiably proud of their history and heritage, and the establishment of a national movement was widely applauded in the early 20th century, eventually leading to Andalusia being recognised as one of Spain’s national communities, and allowing the Andalusian parliament a lot more autonomy than most regions of Spain.

Whilst it may not be immediately obvious, the statue in the fountain is Hercules, with the pillars of Hercules behind him. He is holding onto two lions that he aims to tame, though taming two lions was never one of the tasks set for Hercules. Blas Infante designed the coat of arms, flag, and symbols of Andalusia, so it is probable the lions have another significance unique to Infante’s ideal of Andalusia.

To fully appreciate the significance of Hercule’s fountain and the history of the plaza, step back a bit and imagine the plaza full of cheering folk looking hopefully up as Blas Infante, a hero in his day presented the symbols to the movers and shakers of early 20th century Andalusia, and joyful Rondeños.

Then take a walk past the bullring to the lookout over the tajo, and there you’ll see a life size statue of Infante himself. Sadly Blas Infante’s success in Andalusia made him a target during the civil war, and when Sevilla fell to Franco’s forces, he and his compatriots were rounded up, driven into the countryside and summarily executed, dealing a terrible blow to Andalusian autonomy.

When Spain regained her democratic foundations in the late 1970s Andalusia missed out on full autonomy until 1.5 million Andalusians took to the streets to demand that the Andalusian nation be treated the same as Catalonia, the Basque Country, and Galicia.

A statue, a fountain, and a balcony in Ronda are still regarded as amongst the most important symbols of Andalusian patrimony, and now you know why.

People Playing Soccer in Main Square, Ronda, Andalucia, Spain
People Playing Soccer in Main Square, Ronda, Andalucia, Spain Framed Photographic Print
21.6874 in. x 17.6874 in.
Buy at AllPosters.com

Plaza Socorro and Blas Infante Photos

Ronda’s Arab Baths Now Accessible for People with Disabilities

Francisco Cañestro Opens the Arab Baths

Yesterday the Councillor for Tourism Francisco Cañestro, and the Junta de Andalucía’s Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Sport, Luciano Alonso Alonso officially reopened the Arab Baths in Ronda after extensive renovations allowing wheelchair access for one of Andalucía’s most important Moorish monuments.

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Walk from Ronda, Tajo del Abanico

The walk to the Tajo del Abanico, named for the cave that looks like a fan (abanico), is a gentle walk measuring 3.8km from the Almocabar gate at the entrance to the medieval walls of Ronda in the Barrio de San Francisco. It is of low difficulty, and takes you to a river valley filled with wildflowers.

We start our walk from Ronda at the Almocabar gate, and exit Ronda on Calle Torrejones, this is the street that runs between the main plaza and the Bodega San Francisco, and after 300m passes a stone tower to your right with a cross on it, known locally as ‘el Predicatorio’ which is the location of a restaruant, and part of the Roman aqueduct that used to supply Arunda with water 2000 years ago.

Reaching a small traffic roundabout, we keep going straight ahead past the bar La Quadra, and turn right at the next roundabout with a pink sign point to the Ermita Virgen de la Cabeza. Around 30m around the corner the road forks, we take the left, a sign should point to the Tajo del Abanico.

Continue on this road veering left at the first intersection, you will see three blue dots and an arrow pointing to the left, and continue to the next intersection where the left fork continues alongside the cliffs to your left, whilst the fork to the right does a complete 180; we continue on the left path.

You’ll pass an abandoned tower and farmhouse which is one of many in these parts, most of them being several hundred years old having been built after the Christian reconquest to provide storage for grain, but no longer used and now falling into ruin.

At the end of the road you’ll come to a large farmhouse on your right with a huge steel cross in the driveway, but to the left of the farmhouse driveway is a small gate which should be closed. Simply pull the handle to open the gate, but please close the gate behind you, the gate keeps the dogs out of the Tajo del Abanico.

The path you travel on is the old Ronda to Algeciras road used during medieval and Roman times, and as you continue you will eventually come to sections where the cobbled stones yet exist. Unfortunately these are medieval in origin, probably 500-1000 years old, and whilst they would have been laid where Roman stones originally stood, none of the Roman road exists anymore.

At one point the path descends to the river, and you’ll need to cross the stones in the water to reach the other side, and it is only by going through that you’ll reach the cave of the fan. The cave has a rather unique history, being the place where Francisco Rosi filmed his bandit sequences for the 1984 film Carmen (by Georges Bizet) starring Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes.

You’ll notice also that the cave isn’t very deep and is breathtakingly beautiful despite this owing to the amazing colours in the rocks and the short stalactites hanging above the entrance. The cave is a favourite location amongst local climbers and you may encounter a small group performing some quite impressive free climbing here.

That concludes the walk, you have two options for returning to Ronda, either continue along the path until you see the current Ronda-Algeciras road, which we don’t advise since the track is degraded, or turn back the way you came.

Route Map Tajo del Abanico

Photos from the walk Ronda to Tajo del Abanico

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Ronda Walk Pine Forest Dehesa del Mercadillo

The park Dehesa del Mercadillo is a pine forest just outside Ronda on the Ronda-Sevilla road, and is very easy to get to, however the direct route doesn’t take in any of the valley below Ronda, but using the industrial area of Ronda as a starting point passes through some gorgeous countryside with mountains on the horizon, along farm roads with numerous horse studs before finally entering the forest from the north.

We start the walk in the industrial estate, follow signs pointing to the Poligono, and look for the hotel Berlanga which is very close to the Día supermarket. Directly across from the hotel Calle Genal, which looks industrial, but after 100m begins to descend out of the city to the railway line.

If you keep going straight ahead on this road you’ll come to some olive groves around 150-200 metres from the hotel, and then a little further you’ll cross the railway line before reaching an overpass for the highway. After the overpass, turn immediately left and then immediately right.

You are now on the old Ronda-Setenil road and will continue going down hill for a kilometre or thereabouts. As you descend you’ll come across a small fuente known as Don Pedro, and shortly after this, the road naturally veers to the left.

At this point you are now on the European walking track, the E-4, also known on some maps as the GR-7 and is a walk that commences in Tarifa, and terminates in Athens. You continue on this road which bends to the right near some horse stables, and then continues toward the forest park.

When you reach the next intersection you’ll see a sign pointing to the Hotel Molino de Arco. You could detour here and travel back through the Llano de la Cruz to Arriate or to Ronda Viejo and then onto Acinipo, however for this Ronda walk we are going to continue straight ahead.

Very soon you’ll pass the municipal riding school and some other stables, and immeditately after that the intersection with the Ronda-Sevilla highway. You’ll know you’ve reached the highway because on the right is a large sign showing the route of the GR-7 walk as it crosses the Serranía de Ronda.

Turn left, but avoid the highway, instead follow the dirt track for safety reasons, and then enter the park via a wide entrance. You are now at the end of the walk and have two options; the first is to follow the dirt road inside the park past the forest fire service, or take the more scenic approach and walk from the picnic and play area you find across a small fence into the forest proper.

Once in the forest take a moment to enjoy listening to the birds, their song is fantastic and definitely a highlight of this walk. Birdwatchers and nature lovers might find the forest a little pedestrian, but if you don’t have a lot of time, or only fancy a gentle stroll you won’t be disappointed.

To get back to Ronda, continue through the forest and then follow Avenida de la Legion into town. Here are a few photos of the walk, and if you enjoy this walk please return and leave a comment below for other visitors to Ronda.

Map of Route
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Ronda Walk to Pilar de Cartajima and Roman Aqueduct

This is one of the walks most people want to do because of the Roman Aqueduct you see at the end of the walk, but is also one of the walks in Ronda rarely undertaken by visitors because very few people know the Roman aqueduct even exists, in fact Roman Ronda was a reality for nearly 700 years.

You’ll start the walk at the old entrance to Ronda, the Almocabar Gate which originally was used to reach the Muslim cemetery outside the city walls. In fact the plaza you walk across at the start is where the cemetery was. During the reconquest Spain’s Christian monarchs attacked Ronda from locations near the plaza.

As you walk across the plaza, look for the middle road of the three you can see leading away from Ronda, this is Calle San Francisco de Asís, and isn’t very long, you’ll know you’re on the right track when you reach the school at the top of the street, Colegio Fernando de los Rios.

Keep going out of Ronda until you cross the motorway then turn right onto a gravel track that runs parallel to the motorway, and at the end you’ll find a gate and a small gravelled street to the left. Turn left and you’ll wander down a street surrounded by olive groves, and at the end, a rather large power pole.

Continue to the left of the power pole along a walking track that runs along a fence. This once again becomes a small gravelled road the winds to the right before it reaches a t-intersection.

At the t-intersection you’ll see a sign pointing to Pilar de Cartejima (1600m). At this point, turning left will take you back to the bridge over the motorway, so we want to go right following the sign for Pilar de Cartejima.

Once you reach the Pilar de Cartejima feel free to drink from the constantly running tap, the water is delicious and quite safe to drink, in fact many Rondeños bring empty bottles here to fill so they have fresh drinking water in their homes.

The Roman Aquaduct isn’t too much further, keep walking past the Pilar de Cartejima along a the gravel track that runs along the river. Soon enough the track ends and becomes a walking track, now keep an eye on the rocks above you and to your right. It won’t be long until you spot the tell tale signs of Roman arches against the rock.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how far you have to walk, that would spoil the surprise, but it isn’t far, the only hint I’ll give is that if you see a bridge over the river to your left and behind a fence you’ve gone too far.

Often people get a little lost looking for the Roman Aqueduct, they can be hard to spot, in fact on my own first walk along this track I probably went about three km too far. That was also the day I ended up with a flat battery on my camera and was cursing not having bought a PowerMonkey to recharge it before heading back to Ronda, oh well, I did get a lot of exercise that day.

This Ronda walk is around 6.8 km, and is considered light up to Pilar de Cartejima and then moderate in sections near the Roman Aquaduct.

The photos below were taken over a couple of excursions to the Pilar de Cartejima. If you like the video more will be coming soon, but please leave a comment here or on YouTube if you’ve attempted this walk and have something to share. Also feel free to ask questions.

Ronda Walk Pilar de Cartajima
Ronda to Pilar de Cartajima and Roman Aquaduct
Ronda's new gate

New Gate at the Entrance to Ronda

Today in Ronda News, the city now has a new gate which will welcome visitors to the city, and is the first gate installed since the middle of the 18th century, although the new gate is fittingly more modern as Ronda breaks the shackles of the past and becomes a modern European city.

Designed and built by the students of the Employment Workshop “Arunda”, the  gates are made of recycled metals salvaged in Ronda and stand four metres high. The gates are located in the park being developed next to Ronda’s Palace of Justice at the end of Avenida de Málaga.

The students are all unemployed people learning a new skill, and this project is described as having been hugely motivational, with most putting in extra hours to see the gates completed to a high standard.

Ronda’s mayor Antonio Marín Lara, and the delegate for Employment Josefa Valley were on hand to congratulate the students for their efforts.

In the coming weeks the new parkland will be completed, and will showcase the gates as well as  a new fountain. It is hoped the area will be a welcoming sight for visitors to the city, as well as an attractive space for residents in surrounding streets to relax.

Limestone Mountains, Juzcar

Nature Activities – Juzcar

Deep in the green Genal Valley, but only a few kilometres from Ronda, lies the tiny village of Júzcar, almost invisible as the valley roads twist and turn along the length of the Genal River. Juzcar is small, and easily walked around in less than 30 minutes, you could blink and miss this little inland Andalucia village, but don’t or you’ll really kick yourself later.

Known as Juzcareños, the population of the county is only a little over two hundred, but the history of Juzcar and the wealth of natural wonders located within her borders make a stay in Juzcar something to be recommended. The Hotel Bandolero is a small boutique hotel with 8 rooms in the village that is comfortable, charming, full of character, and has a great restaurant.

The Genal River snakes it’s way through the valley, with numerous tributaries meandering around the village and creating little pools, eddies, or waterfalls at regular intervals. It is the river that is the heart of the Genal Valley, and from which it takes it’s name. Juzcar is in the higher reaches of the valley, known in Spanish as the Alto Genal, and can be reached from both of the main highways running south from Ronda the Ronda-Jimena road via Alpandeire, or the Ronda-San Pedro highway via Cartajima.

Mountains, Caves, and Rivers near Juzcar

To the north of the village lies Jarastepar, a jurassic limestone peak with outcrops of Upper Cretaceous redbeds that rises 1427m into the heavens, all the more impressive in Juzcar because unlike many of the other Serranía villages, Juzcar is only 600m above sea level. The hills immediately around Juzcar village are green, and filled with chestnut trees, whilst to the south in the valley lie the olive tree orchards.

The road between Juzcar and Cartajima, which is the next village on the way into Ronda, is a terrifying road of narrow sections, tight bends, and fast cars; actually it isn’t that bad but it’s the impression many people have of the road. Take care when approaching traffic that you can stop quickly if the road suddenly narrows.

Limestone Mountains, Juzcar
Limestone Mountains, Juzcar

Looming above and around the road are the massive limestone mountains of the Alto Genal, with some of Andalucía’s most spectacular landscape. The limestone mountains to the north of Juzcar, are every bit as impressive as El Torcal over in the GuadalTeba, but much closer to Ronda, and only a short drive and walk from Juzcar.

One could almost imagine the hills are an alien landscape, they protrude in sharp angular outcrops, but are filled with caves and sinkholes, towering minarets, and other formations that make the Alto Genal a geologically fascinating district. Balancing rocks are found in abundance, and create some interesting shapes. Heavy rain in the distant past washed away all of the top soil and exposed the limestone, which is a soft rock easily sculpted by running water.

Just outside Juzcar village is a small cave entrance known as Cueva de Calderón, hinting at what might be underneath. In fact other than the Hundadero-Gato cave system between Montejaque and Benaojan, the caves in the Alto Genal specifically known as the Sierra del Oreganal between Alpandeire, Juzcar and Cartijima are the most well known and loved by cavers. Potholing is possible, though recommended only for experts, and numerous caves that may have been sanctuaries for paleolithic people surround the valley.

Abseiling and rugged adventure walks in the Genal River and other tributaries such as the Zua River are popular activities in these parts. River rappelling at the Sima del Diablo with 8m and 10m descents can be done with a qualified guide, or alone if you have the experience. Unlike other waterfalls and canyons in Málaga province, the Sima del Diablo is secluded with a thick canopy overhead. The location is dark and moody, more reminiscent of a rain forest than sunny Southern Spain. Further upstream you’ll also encounter the Cueva del Moro, the Moor’s Cave.

Legend tells that when the area was first settled a Moor discovered a cave with a natural spring with the sweetest tasting water in the world, and plugging the river in three places with trees and branches he was able to divert the water to each of the three villages where he had a girlfriend, Juzcar, Pandeire, and Baltasar. Later when he married, the village priest decreed that his dam should be destroyed so that only his bride could taste the beautiful water.

Walks From Juzcar

There are a number of countryside walks around Juzcar ranging from 45 minutes to 1hr 15mins, and most can be extended to several hours if that appeals. All of these walks are only suitable for people who can walk, and are comfortable on flights of steps because they require walking off-road on rocky terrain with occasional steeps slopes.

Starting with a walk to Farajan, a nearby village and the walk is only 45 minutes or 2.8kms, with a difficulty level of medium. The walk starts near Juzcar’s cemetery, and leads on the road to Faraján and Alpandeire for about 1km before going off-road to Faraján. Vegetation along the side of the road will be olive, holm oaks, and wild sumac. This walking route takes you past the Fuente de Trujillo, and the spring which marks the beginning of the River Zua.

The second walk from Juzcar goes to Cartajima, and is 2.85kms, and should take around an hour. This is described as a low difficulty walk, suitable for a relaxing day out in the countryside, perhaps enjoying lunch or tapas in Cartajima before returning to your hotel in Juzcar. You’ll pass Juzcar’s ruined tin factory, the el Romeral dolmen from neolithic times, a copse on ancient oaks, and the fuente de las calenturas, so named because the water is so cold people who drink from it often come down with a fever (calentura).

Our third walk from Juzcar goes to Pujerra, another of the Genal Valley villages. This walk is suitable for walking or cycling, and is 3.6kms or around 1hr 15mins, and is described as being a medium difficulty. The walk departs on the Cartajina road, but quickly goes off-road into a small forest of holm and oaks. At the bottom of the valley we cross the Genal river near a small chestnut forest, and then pass the old flour mills that until the mid 20th century provided most of the employment in Juzcar.

Juzcar Birdwatching

Bee-eater near Juzcar
Bee-eater near Juzcar

The entire Serranía de Ronda is a birdwatchers paradise, but Juzcar is special, not for the huge variety of birds to be seen, but for the range of terrain within the county. From the mountains descend the raptors, soaring high above looking for food, whilst down in the forest and riverbed smaller birds pick and fuss.

The forests surrounding Juzcar are filled with pine and chestnut trees, creating a leaf covered forest floor that teams with worms, grubs and insects. This is a bird’s heaven, plentiful food and cover from the watching eyes of birds of prey above. The trees and mountain cliffs provide wonderful nesting locations, one never has to walk very far during the nesting season if birdwatching is your passion.

Here’s our list of ten common birds you’ll see during the year in Juzcar;

English Name Latin Name Spanish Name
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus Buitre Leonado
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus Culebrera Europea
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Busardo Ratonero
Booted Eagle Aquila pennata Aguililla Calzada
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa Perdiz Roja
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo Buho Real
Bee-eater Merops apiaster Abejaruco Europeo
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius Roquero Solitario
Western Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli Mosquitero sombrío
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus Escribano Soteño
Espiritu Santo Church

Espiritu Santo

A formidable looking fortress, this is in fact the Holy Spirit Church, and is one of Ronda’s notable churches. It is unique in being part of the original fortified walls of the old city, in fact the church was built on the destroyed foundations of an octagonal tower used by the moors to defend the gate and walls in this part of Ronda.

King Ferdinand ordered it’s construction almost immediately after taking ronda and for a time after it’s completion in 1505 was the main church in Ronda whilst Santa Maria was completed. Owing to the political and military uncertainty of the times it was built in a very severe gothic style more reminiscent of a defensive tower than a church.

Espiritu Santo took 20 years to complete and was consecrated on Whitsunday 1505, also the year Queen Isabel died giving the church a particularly bittersweet celebration at the time, on one hand a celebration of the first completed church in Ronda after the reconquest, and on the other hand a sad day for the newly united Spain.

Iglesia de Espiritu Santo Opening HoursMonday to Saturday 10am till 2pm then4pm till 7pm (10:00 till 14:00 then 16:00 till 19:00)

GPS Location
Latitude: 36.735230 (36° 44′ 6.83” N)
Longitude: -5.164057 (5° 9′ 50.61” W)

Price of Entry
1€ for individuals
0.60€ if part of a group