Unsightly Power Cables

Power Cables to Disappear in Historic Parts of Ronda

Great news from the Councillor for Tourism Francisco Cañestro, ugly and unsightly power lines and telephone cables that blight the historic quarters of Ronda are to be removed and placed underground over the next three years as part of the continuing beautification of the city for tourists and residents.

For several years comments by tourists in international forums, blogs, and magazine articles have criticised Ronda for the unattractiveness of seeing power cables ruin good photos of historic buildings and streetscapes, in fact so bad has been the situation that many local hotels refuse to add photos of the outside of their buildings to their marketing unless the cable could be airbrushed out.

All of this is now finally set to change beginning in Calles Méndez Moreno, Sor Ángela de la Cruz, and San Juan Bosco as the municipal works department and Voltasur agree to start digging up streets this week.

A budget of 180,000€ has been set aside to bury cables, and will include the Murallas del Carmen, Calle Armiñan, the district surrounding the Mondragon Palace and Ronda’s Santa Maria Church, San Sebastian Minaret and other nearby streets. Already the council has removed power lines in the Patio de Santa Ana (near the Ocho Caños fountain) and adjacent the Puento Nuevo on the Santo Domingo side of the bridge.

Fray Leopoldo of Alpandeire

Alpandeire’s Fray Leopoldo Beatified

The Roman Catholic Church today completed the beatification of Alpandeire’s Leopoldo Sánchez Márquez de Alpandeire, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins with the reading of an apostolic letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI, and read to the devoted by Archbishop Angelo Amato of the Diocese of Sila.

Estimates vary as to the number of people who attended the beatification ceremony, with Granada Hoy saying 60,000 devotees, whilst the church claims 120,000, however either figure if correct is a substantial number.

Known locally as Fray Leopoldo but born Francisco Tomás Sánchez Márquez, Spain’s newest saint was born in Alpandeire, just a few kilometres from Ronda by Diego Marquez and his wife Gerónima Sanchez in 1864 and died in Granada on February 9, 1956. Alpandeire is also the birth place of Ronda’s favourite son Don Pedro Romero, the famous torero.

As a young man Fray Leopoldo worked in Ronda out of necessity as the Cuban-American war claimed the life of his second brother and a drought prevented him staying home and working the family’s land. In 1899, at the age of 35, he travelled to Sevilla and joined the Capuchin Order as a novitiate and adopted the name Leopoldo.

Shortly after taking his vows in 1904 Fray Leopoldo was sent to Granada with his begging bag to live a life of poverty caring for others and offering to pray for any who needed it. For 49 years the friar wandered the streets of Granada asking only ‘Three Hail Marys’ for his labours and prayers, and even as an old man he still kept at his vows.

“During his lifetime the friar was not known for performing miracles”, Archbishop Amato was quoted as saying, “in fact he diligently performed the monotonous small chores each day as if it was the first time ever”.

It is for this reason the church elevated Fray Leopoldo to the status of candidate, and then venerable after those who knew him confirmed his holy life. Fray Leopoldo’s confirmation to sainthood was recognised after a Puerto Rican woman, Lleana Martinez, was inexplicably cured of Lupus after her priest prayed for help from Fray Leopoldo whilst administering the last rites.

Today’s ceremony was attended by all senior clergymen of the Roman Church in Andalucia, as well as politicians across the political spectrum.

Hotel Fuerte Grazalema

Hotel Fuerte, Grazalema ****

The Fuerte Grazalema as its name suggests is located within the famed Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and the location provides for plenty of nature related activities, not least of them being hiking or cycling around the mountains. A small stock of bicycles are kept at the hotel for guest use, and staff are able to arrange for horseback riding nearby.

Very close to Grazalema, the hotel overlooks the ancient medieval part of the village from the east, and is also about 28km from Ronda, or only a few kilometres of Zahara de la Frontera. Daytrips from Grazalema to see other parts of the Sierra de Cadiz or the Serrania de Ronda are not stressful days. Returning to the four star Hotel Fuerte, enjoy relaxing by the large outdoor pool, or book some time in the hotel jacuzzi.

All guest rooms at the Fuerte Grazalema are large and spacious, and have their own private balcony overlooking the valley below Grazalema. Each balcony is provided with a table and chairs, French sliding doors access the room which includes extra long beds, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, and Wi-Fi Internet.

Apart from the bicycle rental service, the hotel also offers laundry and ironing services, and if needed, babysitting services can be provided. Newspapers are delivered daily in the hotel reception. Breakfast is sumptious and filling, perfect for long days exploring the district, and the hotel restaurant is open every night for guest choosing to eat on the premises.

Hotel Facilities

77 Rooms Disabled Access Parking Available Swimming Pool
Room Service Terrace Wi-Fi Internet Air Conditioning
Direct Dial Telephone Satellite TV Multilingual Staff Jacuzzi
Central Heating Hair Dryer Restaurant Bar

Hotel Fuerte Grazalema Photos

The Artist Andalucia Group at Grazalema

Artist Exhibition in Grazalema Kicks Off with Two Sales

A joint exhibition of the Artist Andalucia group from the Serranía de Ronda and Northern Cadiz yesterday launched their most recent exhibition at the Grazalema Tourist Information Centre using the large gallery space to full advantage. Two of the artists were particularly pleased that sales of their works were made on the first day of opening.

Artist Andalucia is made up of Alfredo Lopez, Joe Gilronan, Frank Hair, Patricia Lane, Pauline Emmens, Alan Pearson, Christine Ellingham, and Ron Morley, all of whom are based in Benaojan, Montejaque and Olvera.

A very large crowd of visitors descended on the Tourist Centre to see the exhibition, with Clive Muir, owner of the centre estimating over 500 people made it for the first 4 hours of opening. Guests included large numbers of expatriate residents and Spaniards from Grazalema interested in seeing such a large exhibit.

Patricia Lane, a local artist from Montejaque in the Guardiaro Valley was first to sell a piece, nearly two hours before the exhibit opened with the buyer sneaking into the exhibit space to get claim their desired painting. Patricia confided to Ronda Today that she was absolutely shocked, but delighted all the same since she had a goal of selling just one painting, luckily extra paintings were on hand to avoid an empty space as guests, friends, and art afficionados started arriving.

Another local artist Alan Pearson of Olvera also sold one of his works, an event which excited all of the artists who rarely have the chance to celebrate the good fortune of one of their own since most other galleries and artists markets of the Serranía seem to be poorly frequented.

Christine Ellingham, a prominent Benaojan artist stated to Ronda Today that she was immensely excited to be associated with the exhibit in the Grazalema Tourist Information Centre because the owners are so active in promoting locally produced goods and that the spin off for artists is fantastic.

Los Algarrobales, El Gastor

Hotel Casas Rurales Los Algarrobales, El Gastor ***

The peaceful setting of the Casas Rurales Los Algarrobales within the famed Andalusian hills of the Sierra de Luz in Northern Cadiz creates an ambience of warmth and tranquility. Being close to the nature of the Grazalema Natural Park the location is second to none for ease of access for birdwatchers, hikers or cyclists, indeed some of the world’s top tri-athletes and competitive cyclists often visit the area to train.

The Casas Rurales Los Algarrobales 11 cottages are designed to promote a sense of peacefulness with traditional decor and Andalucian gardens. All of the cottages are equipped with modern amenities such as satellite TV, DVD player, and kitchen for preparing dinners.  A spacious living area is just one of the main attractions for these cottages, and all are also fitted with open fire hearths.

Whilst the cottages are grouped together, 3 offer their own private swimming pool, and the remainder share two swimming pools. A shared tennis court and mini-golf course are also available for guest use. BBQ facilities are provided, and can be used when the law permits, unfortunately in the height of summer this is often not possible. Parking is provided onsite.

El Gastor, the nearest village to Los Algarrobales is a known paragliding and hang gliding location with equipment rental and training for those interested in taking to the skies. Other nearby points of interest include the Via Verde walking track at Olvera, Setenil de las Bodegas the cave house village, the white villages of the Serrania de Ronda, and of course, the city of Ronda with its Moorish and modern Spanish history.

Hotel Facilities

11 Cottages Chimney Fireplace Parking Available Swimming Pool
Kitchen Terrace Solarium Air Conditioning
Mini Golf Satellite TV Washing Machine Babysitting Service
Heating Hair Dryer

Los Algarrobales Photos

Cafe Bar Faustino

Café Bar Faustino, Calle Santa Cecilia €€

Calle Santa Cecilia 4, near Plaza Carmen Abela
open noon until very late, Tuesday through Sunday
(closed Mondays, but available for private parties by advance arrangement)
Tel: 952 190 307

Café Bar Faustino was already legendary when it closed earlier this year for a major remodel.  It has now reopened, and to the delight of patrons, it’s truly the same, but different.  Faustino still offers a hearty “Hello” as you enter.

The Serrano hams still hang over the bar, waiting to be sliced into precious tidbits.  The airy andaluz patio still beckons, with its hand-painted tables and chairs, hanging plants, and artesan tile, but now there’s seating upstairs, too.

Posters from goyescas past, photos of matadors, and other bullfighting memorabilia still adorn the walls, now augmented with new pieces.  This comprehensive exhibit of tauromachia is in the family tradition.

Matí, your waitress, and her mother Ana, the chief cook, are descended from Manuel Ordoñez-Parra, of the same family as the famous dinastia de Ronda.  One of the capes on the wall is embroidered “Jose Manuel” – Matí and Faustino’s son, who attended classes at the bullfighting school in Ronda before entering university.

And Faustino tends bar with the panache of a torrero.  Café Bar Faustino is not only a family business, but family friendly in the best sense.  Matí will warm your baby food, find a place to park grampa’s walking frame, and see to the wishes of everyone in between.

People from all walks of life and from all over the world come to Café Bar Faustino to enjoy the generous drinks, the tasty tapas, the friendly atmosphere, and the seductive charm that is truly rondeño.

Although your hosts speak only Spanish, they make an effort to help guests choose food they’ll enjoy.  Whether you’re an omnivore, a vegetarian, a vegan, or subject to allergic restrictions, you can eat well at Café Bar Faustino.

House specialties include the serranito (a slice of grilled pork loin, a slice of serrano ham, and a fried green pepper on a roll), purpetas (like a French roulade, but chubby rather than long), and Ana’s paella (traditional, loaded with calamari, tiny clams, and shrimp, available on Thursdays and Sundays).

When setas, similar to oyster mushrooms, are in season, they are the stuff of dreams.  The kitchen is very flexible, and Matí will happily have your order prepared to go.  The house tinto is drinkable, if unremarkable, and there’s Cruz Campo on tap, with tinto de verano (a refreshing concoction of red wine with citrus) in summer.

In addition, there’s an assortment of other wines, beers, and liquors.  Faustino makes great coffee to your specifications.  Another aspect that remains unchanged is how well you can eat and drink for so little money.  The service may be a bit harried and slower when it’s crowded, but you’re unlikely to find better food and drink faster for less anywhere in Ronda.

The new features are subtle:  more space, air conditioning, a water filtration system, accessible restrooms with new plumbing, and a retractable awning high above the patio.  These only serve to augment the appeal of a place that is deservedly a legend in its own time.

No pretensions, no stars, no fuss, no advertising – yet instead of all the bars famous in fact and fiction, I’d rather go to Café Bar Faustino.  See you there.

Corrida Colgante, First Winner RMR Contest

Real Maestranza de Ronda Photo Contest, First Winner

Rondeño Sebastián Jesús Garcia has won the first monthly prize in a series of draws being organised by the Real Maestranza de Ronda (RMR) as they celebrate 225 years since the completion and opening of Ronda’s Plaza de Toros in 1785 with his photo entitled ‘Corrida Colgante’.

Sebastián takes home 200€ for his photo of a sculpture on display inside the museum, and said he wanted to capture the bullring from a different perspective, and behind the bull as it wearily watches the torero and his men was exactly what he was looking for.

The sculpture is entitled “A las cinco de la tarde”, At five in the afternoon, and was created by San Sebastian sculptor Andrés Nagel and depicts a bull fighting for its life against four men, one of whom is mounted in the Sevillana style of bullfighting.

As Spain’s premier Plaza de Toros, the RMR are actively promoting the history of the building as well as cultural activities in Ronda, and each month until December will see a photo chosen and the photographer win 200€ until the grand final at the end of the year when a 400€ prize will be awarded. All photos will also be used by the RMR in a poster to promote the Plaza de Toros.

Ronda's Old Town

Hotels in Ronda’s Old Town

There are many hotels in Ronda, and several of these are quite superb hotels, but quite a few of the people who visit Ronda have a particular desire to stay in the old town with its history and romantic stories. This is the protected zone of Ronda, with very little development allowed, so there aren’t many hotels to choose from. Here is our list of all hotels in Ronda’s old town.

Ronda’s old town extends from the Puente Nuevo along Calle Armiñan until the old walls and Almocabar Gate, and down as far as the Arab Baths, so we have included the Hotel Alavera de los Baños even though other travel guides might consider it outside the old town.

Hotel Montelirio ****
The Montelirio, housed in a 17th century palace, is one of Ronda’s most spectacular hotels perched as it is on the edge of the Tajo gorge, and with spectacular views from the pool of the Puente Nuevo. The Montelirio is 4 star hotel so you are assured everything you need to enjoy your stay in the city has been provided.

El Poeta de Ronda ****
Formerly the home of one of Spain’s best loved poets, Pedro Perez Clotet, the Hotel El Poeta de Ronda offers 12 four star rooms in a stately city building. The hotel has been fully refurbished to meet the standards expected by discerning visitors, and is centrally located at the corner of Calle Armiñan and Calle Tenorio.

Hotel San Gabriel ****
An 18th century home for the gentry, the Hotel San Gabriel is a favourite amongst celebrities and people with influence, and each room or suite offers comfort that is the equal of any luxury hotel.

Jardin de la Muralla ***

With its own tree-filled gardens and swimming pool, and next to the Espiritu Santo church, the Hotel Jardin de la Muralla is unique in Ronda, and more importantly, with just 6 rooms for guests, privacy, peace and quiet are assured.

Hotel Ronda *
Hotel Ronda is a small, modern, and clean hotel located directly in front of the ruined Palacio del Rey Moro. Family owned, and proudly so, guests immediately feel welcome and cared for when they stay.

Hotel Alavera de los Baños *
Next to Ronda’s Arab Baths and the Real Maestranza Equestrian Training Centre, the Hotel Alavera de los Baños is situated in the medieval Jewish Quarter of Ronda, and is an oasis of peace away from the crowds, and has its own swimming pool.

Baraka B&B *
Baraka, a word that means peacefulness in the Arabic language, is a delightful 3 room bed and breakfast decorated to appeal to those in search of special places to relax whilst seeing the sites of Ronda. Fresh orange juice and coffee, and Mollete de Antequera are offered every morning for breakfast.

Hotel Apartamentos El Polo
Several small self-catered apartments right in the very centre of the old town, between the town hall and Ronda’s largest church Santa Maria. Each apartment offers a small kitchenette and salon, and can be rented by the day or week.

Jimera de Libar Man Arrested for Threatening Mayor

A man identified only by his initials EBC (64) of Jimera de Libar has been arrested and charged by the Guardia Civil for threatening the life of the village mayor Mayte Dominguez (PP) in Internet forums for the last year.

The mayor of Jimera reported the man’s threats after seeing comments he’d left on one of Spain’s biggest online forums, foro-cuidad.com, in which he stated he wanted to kill her, and make Jimera another Fago, a small town in the north of the country where a mayor was murdered by another villager in similar circumstances.

The threats were made using several nicknames online, including ‘jesusmartinez’, ‘eusebio 1946′, and ‘libararte’ though a court order enforced by the Guardia Civil allowed access to the user’s private account details, and after forensic examination of the writing style were found to be operated by the same person.

EBC has been arraigned to appear in court on charges of making public threats and being in possession of unlicensed shotguns, one of which was found to be loaded with live ammunition at the time of his arrest. He has also been committed to a mental health institution pending trial.

Mrs Obama Leaves the Bullring

US Ambassador Visits Ronda, Hints at Presidential Visit

US Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont yesterday visited Ronda, a month after First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha toured the city, and followed a similar route Mrs Obama had done, though with the inclusion of the Palacio Mondragon.

Ronda’s mayor Antonio Marin Lara quoted the Ambassador as saying that Michelle Obama was so impressed with Ronda she will be returning, “and not alone”, thus alluding to a possible presidential visit during Mr Obama’s time in the White House.

The number of American tourists discovering Ronda for the first time has sharply increased, with the mayor and Councillor for Tourism Francisco Cañestro both commenting the tourist offices are reporting more Americans than the city has seen for many years.

Local hotels are also noticing an increase in Americans, with most hotels and private homes fully booked during the recent feria, but also for the previous weeks immediately after the visit of Michelle Obama in Ronda.

If as the mayor has implied, Mr Solomont’s visit was a fact finding mission in anticipation of a presidential visit, then Ronda could literally experience an explosion of Americans in our small city.

President Barack Obama is known to be a deeply spiritual man, with Michelle overheard telling Father Salvador Guerrero of the Santa Maria Church that President Obama keeps an image of the Virgen Mary in his pocket, and that a visit to the church would be a highlight for the president.

Please watch our Michelle Obama walk around Ronda, just as the First Lady’s party did.