Ronda's environment has got, as special characteristic, lots of mountains. That means that the archaeological investigation has leaded to the knowledge of a great number of caves, lots of them already studied by Obermeier and Breuil at the beginning of the 20th century.
The most famous among the caves ist the one called La Pileta, located at Benaojan and discovered in 1905. It was declared National Monument in 1924. It contains an important number of cave's paintings representing goats, horses, cervids, bovids Among them, the most important are the ones called "The pregnant mare" and "The fish".
The conserved remains belonging to the Paleolithic show an important work by the side of the hunting and farmer human groups. The most important characteristic of these groups is the fact of changing the places where they live depending on the possibilities of surviving, specially concerning the hunting activity. At all these settlements there have been found tools and rest of them with a well defined Mustherian typology.
This cave was not only a place to live for the human people of that age, but also a place to be buried in, as proofed with the finding of human rests at different spaces of the cave.
Last but not least, it can be said that it is the cave with the most important cave's paintings of Andalusia.
Archaeological Site of Acinipo
The archaeological site of Acinipo is located over one big limestone hill of a tertiary origin, having a middle height of 999 mts. over the sea's surface. This rise at the depression of Ronda gave it an important strategic value, which was specially considered at the preroman age when the human settlement had to be stablished.
Acinipo is one of the settlements whose name appears for the first time in a classical text, as the ones written by Ptolomeo or Plinio. This site has been paid attention by lots of investigators. The first news about it appear soon, in the 16th century with Lorenzo de Padilla, being Fariña del Corral, in 1650, the first who identified the theater as belonging to the Roman age.
Although most of the visible rests belong to the Roman age, we do not have to forget the important prehistoric rests of this city. The oldest findings belong to the Neolithic period, and these found remains continue through the Ages of Copper and Bronze. It is at this prehistoric age and with the importance of the Phoenician colonies that Acinipo will rise and become its importance, which will arrive to its highpoint at the Roman age, being preceded by the Iberian phase.
There are several factors which influenced the current space location of Acinipo. On the one side, its rise at the Depression, as one of the highest points of it, which gives to the place an strategic value and also of a visual domination of the surrounding territory. On the other side, the Roman site of Acinipo is located in a zone with fast and easy connection to other Roman provinces.
The accesses leading to the Guadalquivir Valley,to the coast of Cadiz and to the great number of depressions in the midle of the Bethic mountains are also easy to detect, which made able easy contacts and comecial relationships with other areas, as proved by the numismatic findings (Acinipo had formerly the legal power of making money, in this case, coins).
Another factor which influenced the location of this site was the availability of fertile land for farming use. Those fields where exploited since the Neolithic, period, had a great importance at the Roman age and even nowadays it continues being the best land for farming at the Depression of Ronda.
On the other hand, the village of Acinipo took profit of other natural resources existing in its land, like marble, stone for buildings, iron mineral and high quality potter's clay.
Considering the digged space, the Roman Phase is the most important of all. Despite of this, it has been discovered important remains belonging to the recent prehistoric age, like the circular cabins with a stone porch.
Belonging to the 1st century AD there can be seen a typical Roman urban design and buildings, being its best example the city's theater, which can be dated, because of its technical building characteristics, as made in the 1st century AD. In the same way, and in the centre of the hill there can be found the supposed rests of the Forum or Public square of Acinipo. Next to this social, political, economic and religious centre, and inside the wall surrounded area of the city, there have been found other public buildings like therms (public baths) existing nowadays three of its swimming pools,the theater, temples, remaining one of them undestroyed till the beginning of the 20th century, etc. This shows the urbanistic rise of Acinipo during the first centuries of the Roman Empire and the strong development shown by the city, as well as the stablishment and mantainance of a great Power.
On the contrary, and from the 3th century AD Acinipo falls, being in the 14th centuy AD when this urban site looses all its importance in the region, belonging from that time the region's leadership to the close city of Arunda (Ronda).
Cat's Cave / Cueva del Gato
The Cueva del Gato (Cat Cave) is an underground cave in the Benaojan area west of Ronda in the Andalucia region of southern Spain. The cave is part of the Sierra de Grazalema mountain range that includes several cave systems.
Only expert spelunkers actually traverse the inside of the cat cave – a risky endeavor requiring expert-level skills. Visiting both ends of the cave can still be a rewarding experience for the casual traveler looking for Spain’s off-the-beaten-path outdoors destinations.
This short 30 second video shows the results of a short hike in the direction of the Sima de Hundiero entrance of the cave. Along the way is an old deserted homestead, cork trees, lots of plant life and some spectacular views of surrounding mountains and the valley below. A longer hike down the side of the mountain goes to this entrance of the cave.
At the other entrance is the cat cave (cueva del gato). Here lies a small waterfall and a beautiful, clear lagoon where locals sometimes swim. Above the waterfall sits the cave where the river water escapes. This cave entrance resembles the face of a cat – hence the “Cat Cave” (Cueva del Gato) name. After taking a short walk to this cave entrance and lagoon, take a break at the Cueva del Gato restaurant and grab some tapas and a drink.
Sierra de Grazalema natural park
Declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is located in the north east of the province of Cadiz and in the north west of Malaga, at an altitude ranging from 250 to 1,654 metres above sea level.
Grazalema natural park covers 51,695 hectares and is among the areas of greatest ecological importance in the south of the peninsula, and therefore of great significance in Spain as a whole. Its a special protection area for birds.
It has the highest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula, with an annual average of over 2,000 litres per square metre, and is the most important western massif of the Subbetica range. Its heavy rainfall and limestone terrain have created a limestone landscape rich in slopes, grottoes, caves and winding gorges.
The Sierra del Pinar is an important forest of Spanish firs, considered a vegetational relic of the tertiary period.
Its main activities are centred on woodcutting and cattle farming (in some cases using wild stock). Industrial activities include the manufacture of woolen shawls and leather products; other sources of income are tourism, hunting and recreational fishing.
Initial eco-development experiments and other development initiatives have been carried out here. Human presence in the area dates back to the Palaeolithic period and today, one of the main objectives in its management is to strike a balance between human activity and the natural environment.
Flora of Grazalema natural park
The finest Spanish pine grove in the country, a vegetational relic of the tertiary period, a veritable living fossil which only grows at altitudes of over 1,000 metres, is to be found in what is known as the Sierra del Pinar (Pine Grove Mountain Range). The rest of the Park’s vegetation, clearly Mediterranean in type, includes large areas of holm-oak woods. Cork oak, gall oak and pine groves are also to be found. Carob trees, wild olives and barberries also feature, along with riverside woods and thick scrub.
Fauna of Grazalema natural park
One of the largest nesting colonies of tawny vultures in Europe is to be found here. Several species of eagle can be seen: the golden eagle, Hieraetus fasciatus, Aquila heliaca, Hieratus pennatus and Circaetus gallicus. Other birds such as the goshawk, the Egyptian vulture and owls also inhabit the Park.
One of Europe’s largest bat colonies can be found here.
Mammals include genets, wild boar, stags and deer.