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Written by Jane Love | Jan 2014

I was born in Nottingham, England, home of Robin Hood. Brought up on tales of bravery and devilment of Robin Hood and his Merry Men stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, stories of masked highwaymen were a daily diet in the life of a school kid in Nottingham. But even Robin Hood would have had hs work cut out if confronted by the Ronda Bandoleros.

Famous for its spectacular 100 metre deep gorge, El Tajo, Ronda is one of Andalucia´s most visited towns. Split between the old Moorish town and El Mercadillo, a more recently built section, Ronda continues to attract visitors from all over the world. The two parts of town are linked by the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), which was built in 1751, and took 42 years to complete.
But aside from the oldest bullring in Spain, some of the best tapas bars in Andalucia, and a stunning parador which seems to cling to the side of the gorge, Ronda´s rich history is both colourful and intriguing.
Not so different from the tales of Robin Hood, where Robin would hide in the dense undergrowth of Sherwood Forest, the bandits who operated around Ronda as far back as the 9th Century, were well hidden among the ravines, caves and valleys of old-time Andalucia. Now only an hour´s drive from Marbella and Puerto Banus, many years ago it would take several days to travel between the mountainous Ronda regions and the coast. And the aristocrats and royalty who braved the journey were often held up by the bandits before they reached Ronda.
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Also becoming folk heroes, many bandoleros were said to defend the peasants against unfair taxes and government harassment. One of the most famous bandoleros, who preyed on the rich was El Tempranillo. Most bandoleros were driven into banditry by poverty and the harsh feudal system still very active in Spain. El Tempranillo was born into a poor family during the Napoleonic invasion of Spain at the beginning of the 19th Century. He is believed to have killed his first man at the age of thirteen. Whatever the cause, he evaded arrest and joined a gang of young bandoleros, later establishing his own gang who became the most wanted men of their day in Andalucia.
Claiming ´The king may reign in Spain, but I reign in the Sierra´, El Tempranillo cut a dashing figure and was something of a hit with the ladies before being murdered by a comrade. He would demand an ounce of gold from every traveller crossing his domain in the sierras of southern Spain, and he was largely responsible for the government setting up the Guardia Civil in 1844. Payment of jewellery or gold would ensure the traveller´s safe passage. Refusal to pay often ended in death. Once rounded up, bandoleros were forced to go and work for local landowners, political chiefs and even the Guardia Civil itself.
El Tempranillo continued to antagonise the local authorities and, along with 50 horsemen, rode into the mountain village of Grazalema to baptise his son at the village’s Nuestra Señora de la Aurora Church. The authorities looked helplessly on as the posse rode out of town to cheers from the local crowds.
But not all bandits were born to poverty. The famous bullfighter, José Ulloa Tragabuches, was born of gypsy stock in 1780, and inherited his name from his grandfather who once ate a donkey foetus for a bet. Admirer of Pedro Romero he dedicated himself to bullfighting, but upon killing his wife whom he discovered with a lover, he fled to the mountains and took up a life of banditry.
Ronda properties for sale are now highly sought after as ex-pats and residents seek a quieter lifestyle in this stunning part of southern Spain.
Much more recently, the last of the bandoleros was killed in 1934. Pasos Largos (Big Steps) was a fit, quick and agile poacher who would not stop at murder to get what he wanted. He covered the area between El Burgo and Yunquera, just east of Ronda, and was killed by the Guardia Civil in a cave shoot-out.
After the civil war, until the 1950s, the Andalucian sierras became a refuge for communist supporters waging a last resistance to Franco. The Sierra Bermeja, just north of Estepona and the mountains of Axarquía were among their hideouts
The Ronda Museum, the Museo de los Bandoleros, shows the history and lives of the infamous bandits who once terrorised the area. Pictures, personal documents and paintings are displayed to give visitors an insight into the folk heroes and highwaymen who ran the Ronda region. Romantic figures to some, but murderous bandits to others. Whatever your views on the Ronda bandits may be, you will find the facts at the Museo de los Bandaleros in Ronda.
Ronda properties for sale.
Luckily, the Ronda bandits are long gone and Ronda properties for sale are among the most sought after in southern Spain. Ronda properties for sale include fincas, apartments, town houses, village houses and villas.