Benarraba - Walking tour
Before heading down the winding lane at the junction of the Gaucin road, take a look at the hill that the road curves around, which the locals call Monte Poron. This is meant to be the site of the local seat of power, whose castle dominated the area. However looking at it today it has been heavily terraced in the last century and no other clues adorn the landscape.
The best way to understand this village is to stop before you get to the timber yard, on the way down the mountainside. Standing there and looking straight down, the first impression you gain is how small the village must have been a few hundred years ago. The old village would have clustered around the church in a sly valley side 522 metres above sea level, hiding itself from prying eyes of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. As the village grew in the 17th century along a small ridge, so a new piazza was laid out around the hermitage church. This development has continued today, with the construction of the sports field and the rural hotel.
As usual, it is always best to park on the outskirts of the village, before entering the pueblo, as the streets are tight. You can head for the church on foot. This is one pueblo that still has a feel of antiquity as the houses are roughly built and some of the streets have the original cobbled surface. Before reaching the church, the Plazoleta del Cabildo has a number of contrasts, including a disco pub, a shop and an interesting building dating from 1776. This latter edifice is one of the few in the town and serves as a public building. It has been recently restored, containing reddish mural designs of red stars, fans and circles. The building blocks of the structure seem cosmetic but the small windows seem original.
The parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion can’t be missed, is was reconstructed in the 17th century and heavily restored 100 years later, on almost certainly an earlier church destroyed during the Morisco uprisings. The church has its normal three naves and an interesting tower, with a ceramic blue roof of a Morisco style. Though partially redundant due to the falling population, the church is well maintained, having received some further attention in 1980. Walking down to the left of the church, substantial buildings can be seen underneath it, which until recently seem to have housed livestock. From this point the track to Genalgacil can be seen leading off into the valley.
Keeping your bearings, follow the ribbon development, which gradually climbs towards the large Plaza containing the hermitage church. Recent investment into the village is noticeable, with new pavements and the older buildings being replaced with more modern construction.
The walk finishes up in a simple rectangular square dominated at one end by the 17th century hermitage church of La Ermita Cristo de la Vera Cruz. The buildings around the open space are of a later period, suggesting that this church was originally built out of town. The town’s walled cemetery is just behind the church, which due to superstition, is always located well away from the centre of the population. Continuing past the cemetery the pueblo finishes at a modern two star rural hotel, appropriately called Hotel Banu Rabbat. This is bringing some life back into the village and organises walking and painting holidays. From the car park, the Ruta el Penon takes you on a 45 minute walk down to the river Genal. Looking back from this point, the village is dominated by the hills behind and a large TV antenna. This explains why so many homes are tuned into TV 1.
Back towards the entrance to the village and a small square that is used as a car park, a track way leads down due south to a spring, that was until recently used as the Lavadera. The track winds down to the Rio Genal. There is an estate further on, that has been building up a hunting zone for some years and now blocks the track.
Ventorro de Las Corchas
This building is well known today just south of the road junction, heading towards Gaucín. Today it sells antiques but in the 18th & 19th century, this was a major watering hole and venta on the way to Ronda. Many a British officer from Gibraltar used it as a pit stop, before the coming of the railway line. It was also a key point in the distribution chain of smuggling contraband from the Rock. It is here in the 19th century that the celebrated artist G Dore developed his taste for drawing horse images, that later became known as Goyesco Riding. These typical Andaluz images are published around the world and portray something that originated from an observation from this place.
"Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema" by Guy Hunter Watts
The dramatically situated town of Ronda can make a great base for a walking holiday in the mountains of Andalucía, as can any one of the picturesque 'pueblos blancos' (white villages) that nestle among the surrounding hills. This guidebook presents 32 mainly circular walks in the Ronda region, covering the town and its environs, the Natural Parks of La Sierra de Grazalema and La Sierra de las Nieves (both UNESCO biosphere reserves), and the Genal and Guadiaro Valleys.
Clear route description is illustrated with mapping, and the route summary table and 'at a glance' information boxes make it easy to choose the right walk. There is the option to buy a printed book, an eBook, or both as one deal.
Buy a copy online of Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema