Roman Ruins in Andalusia are synonymous with hidden gems. The ruins of Acinipo are such vestiges of the past that you can discover roughly 20 kilometers from Ronda, situated on a steep hill close to the Sierra de Grazalema.
Because of its location, you can easily visit the Ancient City of Acinipo in a day trip from Ronda or Setenil de las Bodegas, which is only a 10-minute drive away.
- The most impressive Roman ruins in Andalusia are Baelo Claudia (outside of Tarifa) and the Ruins of Itálica (close to Seville).
- The ruins of Acinipo are home to one of the oldest Roman theaters in Spain.
- Acinipo was once a wealthy agricultural town before mysterious being abandoned.
History of Acinipo
A brief history of Acinipo can be found at the entrance to help you make the most of your visit.
Acinipo has been around since roughly 3,000 BC, but its heyday began in the fifth century BC when when it became the walled Iberian town we see the ruins of today.
The richest time in Acinipo’s history was during the Roman era, from 206 BC to the 2nd century AD. During this time, Romans built impressive buildings and even minted coins. These coins featured the name Acinipo, with one side showing ears of wheat and the other displaying a bunch of grapes.
Acinipo played a vital role in connecting Cordoba, Sevilla, and the coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
After these good times, the city began to decline and was eventually replaced as the capital of the mountain region by Ronda. That’s why Acinipo is also called Ronda la Vieja, which mean the « Old Ronda. »
Even though they began digging up Acinipo in 1967, a large part of the city is remains undiscovered.
What to see at the Archeological Site of Acinipo
The oldest buildings in Acinipo date back to the 9th centuries BC.
These houses were typical of the people who lived in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula in prehistoric times. They were made of mud, and their roofs were shaped like cones and covered with branches or straw. (When I try to picture them, I like to think of the trulli towns of Puglia!)
The Ronda Municipal Museum houses the ancient artifacts discovered here.
Don’t be shocked if you don’t spot any domes around here. « Domus » was the name given to the homes of the wealthy Roman classes.
It’s thought that these homes were left behind later on when the rich Romans decided they’d rather live in the countryside than in the city.
Built sometimes around the 1st century, the Roman amphitheater is the real standout of the Acinipo Archaeological Site. It’s a stunning piece of architecture, and you can just imagine a crowd of 2000 applauding from seats carved into the rock.
The stage was made using the limestone dug up when they were clearing out the seats. Although it’s still in pretty good shape, most of its original design has faded away over time.
One of the oldest Roman buildings at Acinipo is the thermal baths. They’re right next to the entrance and have three pools: one with hot water, one with warm water, and one with cold water. Think of them as the Roman version of those fantastic hammams in Malaga. They brought in water from a nearby source and warmed the rooms by burning wood under the floors.
These baths were quite large and also had changing rooms, toilets, and a big rectangular courtyard where people did gymnastics.
You can take a short walk to a fantastic viewpoint at the end of the site. Just like many other fortified towns in Andalucia, Acinipo sits high on a hill, about 1000 meters above sea level. From this lookout, you’ll see for miles around.
How to Get to the Ruins of Acinipo
Getting to Acinipo is easy, no matter where you’re coming from. (If you have a car, that is.)
If you’re heading over from Ronda, it’s just a short 30-minute drive over 22 kilometers. And let me tell you, that road is a real treat with the sweet smell of olive trees all around.
Now, if you’re coming from Malaga, it’ll take you roughly 90 minutes to reach the ruins of Acinipo, which are about 100 kilometers away. The ancient Roman city is just another quick 10-minute drive after you pass through Setenil de las Bodegas.
Address: Partido rural de Peñacerrada, CARRETERA ma-7402, KM 11,8, 2900. Ronda, Málaga. (Google Maps)
Parking at Acinipo
After all, Acinipo is not the Roman Forum in Rome! You should be able to enjoy the Roman ruins all to yourself.
That means, you really don’t need to worry about parking at Acinipo. There are plenty of parking spots right in front of the entrance gate.
Where to Stay if You Want to Visit Acinipo
There is no real point in staying in Acinipo. You’ll be far better off basing yourself in the romantic town of Ronda.
Tickets and Opening hours
The entrance to the Ruins of Acinipo is free.
It takes around 1 hour to visit the archeological site.
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Wednesday to Sundays: from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Last entrance is 45 minutes before closing time.
Opening hours are updated monthly on their Facebook page.