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  • Krista the Explorer

Visiting the Roman Ruins of Acinipo, Spain

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Spain is full of incredible Roman ruins to explore, from the aqueduct in Segovia to Itálica to the Roman theatre in Málaga. And that’s not to mention the abundance of ruins in the north of Spain as well. The Romans first came to Spain in the 3rd century BC, when they built Itálica, and for the next 700 years they were the dominant force in the country. Like many parts of Europe, Spain still proudly boasts a large number of Roman ruins, and while some lay almost unnoticeable, others have been expertly preserved and restored for visitors and locals to enjoy. And one of these Roman ruins in southern Spain is the ancient town of Acinipo.

Where is Acinipo located?

Ancient Roman amphitheatre sitting in the distance on a hill with piles of stones scattered across the hill.
Ruinas de Acinipo

Acinipo is located a mere 20 km from the very popular tourist destination of Ronda. It’s also within close proximity to unique white villages in Andalucía, such as Setenil de las Bodegas. If you’re planning a Málaga road trip, this is a great option as it’s not too well known with tourists and is only accessible by car. There are plenty of day trips from Málaga to go on, and Acinipo takes only 90 minutes to drive to, so is worth considering.


Acinipo opening times & entry fees

A small stone building with an office and toilet.
Facilities at Acinipo

The Roman ruins of Acinipo are generally open 09:00-14:30 from Wednesday to Sunday each week, but this may change in the off season. The best way to find the opening times of Acinipo is to check their Facebook page for the latest updates. Acinipo is completely FREE to enter - which is great! Admission isn’t allowed less than 45 minutes before closing, so make sure you arrive with enough time to spare.


Facilities at Acinipo

When you arrive at Acinipo you’ll notice that there is a small office at the entrance. There’s a very nice man that works there who will point you in the right direction and tell you about some of the site’s history (he only speaks Spanish though). There are plaques along the route which offer explanations in both Spanish and English though. The entrance to the site is also where you’ll find the toilets.


Parking at Acinipo

A covered seating area overlooking the hilly landscape at Acinipo.
Viewpoint

Parking at Acinipo is very easy, as there is a large parking lot right in front of the main entrance. No buses go along this route so you don’t need to worry about spaces being taken up, and the ruins are never overly busy either.


How to get to Acinipo

Acinipo is easy to get to, but the only way to get there is by car (no public transportation). If you’re leaving from Málaga it will take around 90 minutes to get to, and you take almost the same route as you would for Ronda. The last part of the journey is a steep uphill drive, but the roads are fully paved and wide so there’s no need to worry if you’re a nervous driver.


History of Acinipo

Perspective looking through a stone archway towards the seating area of a Roman amphitheatre.
Ruins of the Roman amphitheatre

Acinipo is an ancient archaeological site that actually predates the Romans, dating back to the 9th century BC. It wasn’t until the Romans arrived in 206 BC that Acinipo grew into an important town and stopping point for wealthy merchants travelling across the south of Spain. It even minted its own currency! From the 3rd century the town started to decline, and was eventually forgotten about in favour of Ronda. Acinipo is sometimes referred to as Old Ronda, and today much of the town still remains uncovered.

Acinipo Prehistoric Ruins

Prehistoric ruins where ancient houses would have stood on a grassy plain at Acinipo.
Prehistoric ruins

Before you start your trek up the hill, just to the left of the entrance are a collection of prehistoric ruins, labelled as “cabins” on the map. They’re actually the oldest part of Acinipo, dating back to the 9th century BC, and although they don’t look like much today, they outline the remains of a typical village from this time period. You can learn more about the interesting artefacts found at this site by visiting the Municipal Museum of Ronda.


The Domus

Ruins of an ancient Roman house with stones still standing, with a hilly view in the background.
The Domus

Halfway up the hill is where you’ll come across the Domus. Whereas not much remains of the prehistoric settlement, the Domus is a clear example of a wealthy aristocratic Roman family’s home and offers a fascinating insight into how they would have lived. The Domus was built on two levels, one for the kitchen and storage space and the other where the family lived. I wasn’t expecting to see this type of Roman ruin while visiting Acinipo, so it was a nice surprise and was interesting to read more about.


The Roman Amphitheatre of Acinipo

A roman amphitheatre that's been rebuilt using the original stones, sitting at the top of a hill.
Roman amphitheatre

If you’re visiting the Roman ruins of Acinipo, chances are it’s because of this incredible Roman amphitheatre. Dating back to the 1st century, this amphitheatre stands as one of the oldest in Spain, and would have held up to 2000 people. It sits at the top of the hill, so during the Moorish occupation of the south it was in a perfect position to be used as a watchtower, overlooking the surrounding countryside. It’s one of the best places to visit near Ronda, so make sure you add it to your itinerary!


Stop and take in the views

View from the top of a hill with Roman stones in piles.
View from the top of the hill

Before leaving the Roman amphitheatre, make sure you walk to the very top of the hill, where the seating finishes, and take in the incredible views below. There’s a reason this Roman theatre was built here. On a clear day you can see quite far across the mountains, and you can see the extent of how much of this archaeological site is still yet to be excavated.


Roman Baths

Ruins of a Roman bathhouse with columns still standing at Acinipo.
Roman Baths

As you make your way back down the hill along the trail, there’s one more Roman ruin to look at. The Romans were very particular about personal hygiene, and all of the most important towns and cities had at least one bathhouse in it. Acinipo was no exception, and this large bathhouse would have included a latrine, changing room, and rooms of different temperatures that had underfloor heating. It sounds very much like a modern day spa to me!


View of the stage of the Roman amphitheatre in Acinipo.
Roman amphitheatre.

You’ll have no problems finding ancient ruins in Spain to explore, regardless of what part of the country you’re in. Some are more popular than others though, and it’s the lesser known historical sites that are oftentimes the most interesting to explore. Visiting the Roman ruins of Acinipo is one of the best day trips from Málaga, as well as one of the best day trips from the Costa del Sol, and you can easily add it into your road trip plans. Acinipo is also one of the more interesting Roman ruins near Seville, after Itálica of course. There’s nothing better than having an entire archaeological site to yourself, and chances are when you visit the ancient city of Acinipo there’ll be no one else around for miles.


Have you heard of this unique place in southern Spain before? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. And if you know of any other ancient ruins to visit in Spain let me know! Feel free to follow me on Instagram too so you can keep up with my latest travels.


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