Hermitage of Virgen de la Cabeza
The complex of Mozarabic caves known as La Virgen de la Cabeza or Cuevas de San Antón (9th to 10th century), were excavated in their entirety from the rock.
Following the Muslim conquest of the peninsula (711), many of the Hispano-Gothic communities that had capitulated carried on living in the land of their forebears and maintained their customs and beliefs. These people were known as "Mozárabes".
There are three clearly defined areas: one devoted to worship, another which served as living accommodation for the clergy who lived there, and a third designed for food storage and cattle shelter.
Initially, these caves were home to a small community of some ten monks. They continued to serve as a place of religious worship until some time in the 18th century, when the hermitage fell into disuse. In the 1980s, thanks to the intervention of the Hermandad de la Virgen de la Cabeza society, it began to be used for religious purposes once again, the process of rehabilitation culminating in its restoration by Ronda council in 1997.
The ecclesiastical section covers an area of 272 square metres and comprises a main nave with an altar. Next to this nave is a smaller area which is used as a sacristy. There are a further two side naves, both of which also have altars. One of these also provides access to the crypt, which experts believe to have been built later (17th to 18th centuries).
The domestic area comprises four rooms that may once have been used as cells. Outside, on the edge of the gorge, a large terrace cut from the rock affords spectacular panoramic views of the plateau on which the town of Ronda stands.
A large food storage silo stands just outside the worship area, along with a further area that has been used for a multitude of purposes over the years, a cattle shelter and a grape press being just two examples.
The whole of this Mozarabic cave complex is adjoined by a fascinating Baroque chapel devoted to the worship of the Virgen de la Cabeza, in whose honour a popular pilgrimage is held every June.