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

Nuestra Señora del Socorro

The parish church of Socorro (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro) was only built in 1956 but it and the plaza around it feature prominently on every walking tour of Ronda. The ground on which the church stands was the location of a parish chapel, a hospital, and before that a Muslim chapel.

During the reconquest of Ronda the plaza in front of the church was the campsite of Don Tello de Girón, the Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava. After the reconquest the Order of Calatrava built a residence in the site of the current church for their Grand Master, the last of whom, Don García López de Padilla, generously gave the house and its land for the purpose of a hospital for the poor and travelling pilgrims.

Continue reading Nuestra Señora del Socorro

A Day Trip from Granada to Pileta and Ronda

We often get reader emails asking for advice about visiting the Cueva de la Pileta at Benaojan, and the following email conversation is real, but the sender’s name has been removed to avoid identifying her.

From Reader
Hello, We will be visiting Ronda on March 17. We would like to visit the Pileta Caves as well. Is there a place where we can rent a car in Ronda to get to the caves? If not, how can we hire a taxi and ensure that we get a ride back to Ronda in a few hours (after the tour) since the tour only occurs if there are enough people? Do the taxi offer round trip? We also have 2 kids (4 & 6). Do they need booster seats for the taxi to take us to the caves? Do the taxis wait for us at the caves until the tour is over? Thank you for your help

Ronda Today Responds
What a lot of questions… let me see if I can answer them all :)

1. It is possible to get a train to Benaojan, and the walk to the caves is beautiful, but 4km uphill, and with young children probably not suitable. However it is possible to call a taxi in Benaojan from the station at Benaojan, and arrange for the driver to meet you after the tour to take you back to the station. The tour of the caves can be anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on the group and how talkative people are.

2. Yes, you can hire a car in Ronda for the day, whichever hotel you’re staying in will have their brochure and contact details. I don’t know the price of hiring a car but availability shouldn’t be a problem if you arrive on the 17th. Readers can contact Ronda Rent-a-car

3. A taxi from Ronda can be arranged, you’ll need to agree a fixed price with the driver, and should expect to pay around 50-60 euros. The driver will wait for you at the cave car park and then bring you back to Ronda, however, you should ask your hotel to arrange this as soon as you arrive so that you have the pickup confirmed.

I’m not sure about booster seats in taxis, some of them have them in the trunk, and others don’t. Be sure to mention this when you reserve the taxi so that the driver can install them.

From Reader
Thank you very, very much for your response and for answering all my questions. If you don’t mind, I have some more questions!

We are arriving from Granada at 9:21 am on March 17. Is there a train from Ronda to Benaojan around that time? Do you know how long the train ride is? I like your suggestion of calling a taxi from the Benaojan station but do you think we can get a taxi when we arrive at the station or is there a way of calling for one in advance? We don’t have that much time.

If that doesn’t work out, we are also considering a taxi from Ronda to the caves. However, we are not staying overnight in Ronda. We have to catch the 17:34 train back to Granada on the same day. Since we are not staying at any of the hotels, how can we arrange for a taxi in advance? If we get to the Ronda train station and hire one then, do you think we’ll be able to have somebody come within half an hour to an hour? From your website, there’s only one taxi company. Do you have an email address where I can contact them?

I really appreciate all of your help. Thank you once again. You have been very helpful and friendly!

Ronda Today Responds
All of the taxis in the Serranía are independent, and they have a single phone number for their cooperative. If you’re only coming for the day you’re going to struggle to get everything in, so my advice with the train from Granada is to stay on the train, and get off at Benaojan. Looking at the Renfe website, your train departs Granada at 06:50 and will arrive at Benaojan at 09:34, which should give you plenty of time to call a taxi at the station for the cave. The first tour in the cave starts at 10:00 but is often several minutes later whilst they wait for people to arrive.

The return train departs Benaojan at 13:11 arriving Granada 15:57, or you could get off at Ronda, see some of the sites for the afternoon, and plan to depart Ronda on the 17:36 train arriving in Granada at 20:10. The journey time between Benaojan and Ronda is only 15 minutes.

If you decide to stop in Ronda, then I’d make plans to have lunch at either the the venta “Bar STOP” across the road from the station in Benaojan, or take a short 200m walk to the Hotel Molino del Santo, so that you have plenty of time to wander around Ronda without needing to stop for lunch.

From Reader
Wow, that’s great advice! We will follow all of your suggestions and take the train to Benaojan, come back and have lunch at the station, and then check out Ronda for a few hours before leaving for Granada. What a plan!
In your experience, do you think that there will be taxis waiting at the Benaojan station that we can hop into upon arrival?

Yes, all of the information that you’ve provided has been extremely helpful.

Ronda Today Responds
I very much doubt there will be a taxi waiting at the station, but right next to the ticket office there is a small venta that provides coffee, beer, and tapas, and if you ask them about the taxi you’ll have no problem. However there is also a pay phone across the road from the station, and you can call the Benaojan taxi direct on 952 16 71 41.

Cycling on the Via Verde

By TRISTAN CANO author of Historic Walking Guides: Gibraltar

The Via Verde de la Sierra is one of 20 so-called ‘green routes’ which chart a trail of disused railway lines across Andalucia. Forming part of a proposed rail route across the Cadiz Sierra between Almargen and Jerez de la Frontera, it would have connected the cities of Malaga and Granada. Although much of the groundwork, including tunnels, viaducts and railway stations were completed in the early 1930s, the project was never finished and lay in neglect until 1993 when the line was renovated for use as a walking and cycling route.

We started our day in the town of Olvera where we were staying in the charming Casa Andalus on Calle Maestro Amado. Like many of the other white towns in the vicinity, Olvera’s roots are Roman and the town went on to flourish during the Muslim occupation of Spain. It has a Moorish Castle constructed on a rocky crag high above the town which, like parts of our own Moorish castle, was built during the 13th Century Nasrid Dynasty. Some of the original Moorish walls and their supporting buttresses remain intact, but most of the Castle was built after the reconquista. Another noteworthy building in the town is the twin-towered neoclassical church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación whose impressive façade dominates its surroundings and was built on the site of a former mosque.

Cycling the Via Verde

We followed the short though steep path from the town centre down to the Antigua Estación Ferrocarril which marks the starting point of the Via Verde. This hotel offers bicycle rentals and is the last opportunity to pick up refreshments before you reach the Estación de Zaframagón, 15 km along the route. The reasonably flat terrain makes the route perfect for cyclists and we opted to hire bikes, although plenty also chose to follow the route on foot. We were immediately impressed with the scenery, a distinct patchwork of brown and green fields with endless olive tree groves looking like blobs of green paint on a watercolour just asking to be painted. The Via’s thirty tunnels are a feature of the journey and we overcame nine of these before reaching the first official rest-stop at Estación de Navalagrulla. Although we had enjoyed a slight downward gradient thus far and barely broken into a sweat, we would be following the route in reverse on our return later and enjoyed a welcome respite, noting the need to conserve as much energy as possible.

As we got closer to the Estación de Zaframagón, the landscape began to transform from arable land into forests of Spanish Firs. We were transported through mountains and river valleys with the help of immense viaducts and increasingly lengthy tunnels. The viaduct at Zaframagón offered inspiring views of the Peñón de Zaframagón, an impressive 584m-high limestone outcrop with sheer cliffs, and the verdant valley below strewn with delightful stone ruins. Overhead we saw our first venue of about a dozen Griffon Vultures. Two hundred breeding pairs live in these mountains and there is a nature centre dedicated to them at the nearby Estación Zaframagón which includes a video feed showing live footage of the vultures on the opposing rock face. The centre closes daily at 16:00 and a vending machine, which is available until that time, provides another opportunity to get much-needed refreshments before reaching the town of Coripe.  Although we had originally intended to end our cycle at the Zaframagón we were feeling relatively spritely and decided to soldier on to the next Estación.

The Guadalete and Guadalporcún rivers join at around the 26 km mark of the route but the Guadalporcún meanders alongside the cycling track all the way from Zaframagón to the Estación de Coripe which has also been transformed into a hotel and restaurant. There is not much happening in the town of Coripe itself which is about 2 km from the track however a small diversion from the Coripe Viaduct takes you to the Chaparro de la Vega. This supposedly 700-year old Holm Oak of enormous dimensions is an Andalucian National Monument and plays its part in local traditions by providing a meeting point for the villagers of Coripe on their annual pilgrimage during the Fiesta del Virgen de Fatima, their patron saint.

Following Estación de Coripe, the route continues to the third and final hotel at the Estación de Puerto Serrano which adjoins the town of the same name. However having already cycled 22 km we were acutely aware of the 200 metre height climb on the return route and set off on the arduous journey back to the start. About 2 hours later and with tired legs and saddle sore beginning to rear its painful head, we arrived at the hotel at Olvera, dropped off our bikes and were happy to place our feet firmly back on terra firma. Our walk back to town was slow but pleasant, not only for the sense of achievement we felt for having completed our long cycle, but also due to the beautiful purple and pink Sierra sunset that accompanied us on our way. We were aware that our legs would soon be stiffening up, so grabbing a quick shower at Casa Andalus, we headed out for an early dinner at the lively Restaurante Lirios before retiring to what was always going to be an excellent night’s sleep.

Offerings at the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Though predictably sore and stiff from the previous day’s cycle, we opted for an early rise and a trip to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios which overlooks Olvera from a nearby hill. This sanctuary, built on the site of an 18th Century hermitage is apparently visited by 300,000 devotees each year who bring offerings to the Señora in fulfilment of their vows. The interior of its colourful chapel is a pastiche of numerous gaudy styles dominated by a shocking amount of gold plating, and stands adjacent to stunning courtyard overrun with potted plants. A room upstairs was undoubtedly the most interesting, housing the devotions deposited by visitors: hundreds of photos, items of clothing, locks of hair and numerous other knickknacks set down often in memory of long passed loved ones.

Next on the agenda was the village of Zahara de las Sierra where the remains of a castle recall its day as a Moorish outpost. Despite its small size (population of about 950) thousands of visitors are attracted to Zahara each year by its picturesque setting perched atop a mountain, overlooking a valley and a man-made crystal blue lagoon. After a quick photo stop, we moved on to Setenil de las Bodegas, possibly the most unique town in the area. After driving through twice, we finally managed to find a parking space to explore this fascinating town where many of the houses are built into the walls of a huge mountain gorge. Setenil shows evidence of human occupation for at least 2,000 years but was possibly occupied by troglodytes long before then.

Olvera can be reached either via Ronda (taking the E-15/AP-7 in the direction of San Pedro de Alcántara and then the A-397 to Ronda, followed by the A-374 and following signs for Olvera) or via Jerez (taking the A-381 to Jerez/Los Barrios/ Seville and then the E-5/AP-4 to Seville, before taking exit 80 towards Arcos de la Frontera). Casa Andalus is a ‘self-catering’ house which can be booked by calling Karen/Andrew on +34 951276249, mob. +34 689665342). Bicycles can be rented at the Antigua Estación Ferrocarril hotel at the start of the Via Verde at the price of €15.00 per day.

Photos from Olvera’s Via Verde

Photo Gallery of Las Enganches 2010

This year Ronda Today stayed in the streets of Ronda to photograph the Sunday morning show at the Plaza de Toros on the final day of the Pedro Romero Feria 2010, Las Enganches. See last years article for a video of the carriages being judged inside the bullring, Las Enganches 2009.

Here is a selection of our favourite photos of horses, carriages, beautiful ladies, and gentlemen in traditional riding suits.

Benaojan Walk, Station to the Cueva del Gato

Ronda Today recently caught up with Tony Bishop, the author of a new walking guide entitled “Walking in the Ronda Mountains: 30 half-day walks in Andalucía” due to be published by Editorial La Serranía in October 2010, and we believe will soon become the guide against which all others are judged.

As part of our interview, Tony kindly escorted us along the Guadiaro River from Benaojan Station to the Cueva del Gato, explaining the birds and wildlife we saw through the binoculars he provided. Tony isn’t a professional walking guide, though he enjoys nothing more than to show friends his favourite walking tracks.

Find hotels in Benaojan here…. Continue reading Benaojan Walk, Station to the Cueva del Gato