Ermita Rupestre de la Virgen de la Cabeza, Ronda

View of Ronda town from the hermitage Virgin de la Cabeza (c) Michelle Chaplow
View of Ronda town from the hermitage Virgin de la Cabeza


This ninth-century cave hermitage, carved into the rock face, has remained hidden from visitors until recently. Today, it is still used for religious purposes by the Brotherhood of the Virgen de la Cabeza. The town of Ronda continues to celebrate a pilgrimage on behalf of the Virgen de la Cabeza that incorporates a visit to the site.

The chapel is excavated into the sandstone of a slope of the pit of the Tajo, just outside the town. A peasant community who were installed in the area probably led the construction. The structure has several rooms, some dedicated to worship and others that would have housed the community that built it, as well as storage areas.

Its origin remains undetermined; some experts think it was created by members of the aristocracy, which would rule out its having been created in Islamic times.

The ecclesiastical centre of the building consists 272 square meters, including a shrine; beside this sits the sacristy. There are also two aisles, both with a shrine and one with access to the crypt, which is thought to be from the eighteenth century. There are also eighteenth-century paintings, which have been well preserved. It is around this time that a community of monks took ownership of the building and reinstated its religious function.

Outside the area of worship is a large silo for food preservation and a space that has had various uses, including shelter for livestock.

Next to the hermitage, there is a baroque chapel in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza. Archaeological excavations have not yet been carried out in the area to clarify more specifically who would have inhabited this fascinating space.

The monument runs very specific opening hours, roughly every 15 days and only during weekends. To know exactly which weekends it will be open for, visitors must contact the Ronda tourist office, Tel. 952 18 71 19.

Even if the hermitage is closed, a visit to the site is worth it for the view back to Ronda town alone.


Partida los Molinos, 662, 29400 Ronda, Málaga. access from Calle Torrejones.