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Walking Routes from Ronda to Arcos de la Frontera

17km. after leaving Ronda along the CC339, there is a turn off for Grazalema, but it is recommended to make a detour in order to get to know Ubrique.

Grazalema (31km. from Ronda) lies on a rocky surface surrounded by lush green vegetation and overlooking magnificent mountain scenery. In the vicinity there is a forest of Spanish fir, which is unique in Europe. Grazalema sierra still produces the blankets which invariably appear in the romantic engravings depicting the bandoleros or bandits from the neighbouring Ronda Sierra. The most outstanding buildings are the parish church and the Churches of San Juan and of Nuestra Señora de la Aurora, where some examples of Baroque Andalusian imagery are found.

From Grazalema the traveller retraces his steps by taking the same way as when he arrived. After 4km. there's a turn off for Ubrique via Villaluenga and Benocaz, tow small villages with a Moorish air, on the right. Ubrique is hemmed in by mountains and despite the fact that it has grown considerably the upper part preserves magnificent examples of popular Andalusian architecture and an old Almohad fortress in ruins. Saddlery and leather are the traditional and still very active crafts in Ubrique.

A forest track leads to the nearby reservoir of Los Hurones via the Castle of Fatima, another old fortress dating from Muslim era.

Leaving Ubrique along the way he came, the traveller soon reaches the fork where the right branch leads to Grazalema and the left to El Bosque. After 16km. along the latter branch, the traveller is well on their way to Arcos.

There's no doubt that Arcos de la Frontera is an obligatory stopping place on a visit to the Cadiz Sierra. The town, with a castle and Santa Maria Church at the top, spreads over a rocky ridge with the River Guadalete at its foot. The Moorish layout of the streets and the magnificent Christian buildings turn Arcos into a good example of the Muslim towns in Andalusia, which were resettled after their conquest by the noble vassals of the Castilian kings.

From the top, where the fortress stands with the church next to it, there are an observation platform and a Parador overlooking an exceptional panorama. The Gothic structure of Santa Maria church's still preserved despite the successive alterations, which brought the portal, the Baroque tower and some outstanding features, especially the main reredos and the choir. A very valuable example of the Gothic period is the 14C painting of Crowning the Virgin in the left hand aisle.

San Pedro Church dates from the same time and underwent almost identical alterations It has only a nave, also in the Gothic style, and stands on the remains of an old Muslim fortress. It has a Baroque portal and bell tower as well as a rather remarkable series of 16C/17C images and paintings.

On a walk through Arcos the traveller will find that the popular architecture is in perfect harmony with the aristocratic portals of the convents and palatial houses.

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