Ermita de la Oscuridad


Despite not being as popular as other monuments in Ronda, this chapel is nonetheless very impressive, and worth visiting.

The hermitage is located in the Plaza de la Oscuridad, in the rear courtyard of a house owned for years by the Ponce de León family. Thanks to a scheme by the City Council, and with the collaboration of its current owner, Fernando Ponce de León, the hermitage has opening times for public access. This was permitted after Mr Ponce de León restored the building with the help of some architects.

Ponce de León said of the hermitage that “it was owned by my grandparents and when I inherited the property, it was abandoned; it was a dump. There was even a tannery in it. There is a column that was used to hang the skins to dry them.”

The hermitage dates from somewhere between ninth and tenth centuries. Its builders took advantage of a cavity that was formed 65 million years ago in the rock. Shells and marine fossils embedded into the rock face suggest that this spot would have been under the sea during the Tertiary Era.

The hermitage has three sections: a central hall with internal openings, a room that could shelter a small cenobitic community and a Christian necropolis with burials in elongated niches.

According to Ponce de León, the liturgical use of this cave dates back to the Visigothic Era. Centuries later, it would shelter a Mozarabic community looking for refuge areas in which to practice Christian rites during the period of Arab domination.

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