Ben and Joan, Monty Jack and Big Ron

Ben and Joan, Monty Jack and Big Ron

By Paul Whitelock

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 (Revised, January 21, 2024)

Three of the loveliest pueblos blancos of the Guadiaro Valley in our part of the Serranía de Ronda are Monty Jack, its neighbour Ben and Joan and the stunning jewel in the crown, Big Ron. Otherwise known as Montejaque, Benaoján and Ronda

Montejaque, at 689 square metres above sea level, nestles in the shadow of two mountains, Hacho and Tavizna.  With a population of just below 1000, it’s small and quiet. The barrio nazarí, the old village tucked in at the top of Montejaque, is charming with higgledy-piggledy houses and narrow alleys originating from the days of the Moorish occupation, 711 to 1492, was designed to keep dwellings cool in the heat of summer and sheltered and warm in the cold of winter.

Over the years a number of these older houses, many of which were nothing more than ruined dwellings or animal shelters, have been bought up by northern Europeans and renovated into holiday cottages or permanent homes.  Some 40 or so guiris (foreigners, half of them British and Irish) live in Monty Jack on a permanent basis.

The surrounding land is given over largely to olive cultivation and cork production.  The village is now quite thriving, with significant construction work in the newer lower part of the village still ongoing despite the various recessions, estados de alarma and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Benaoján, by contrast, is a pork town, with a number of processing factories in the village itself and down the hill in Estación de Benaoján, its sister settlement alongside the railway line to Algeciras.  With an overall population of 1,500 Ben and Joan are famous for their hams, sausages, cold meats and other pork products, based on the ubiquitous black pigs which roam freely feasting on acorns from the thousands of oak trees. Benaoján is evidently more industrial and shabby than its neighbour up the hill. 

Also in the lee of a mountain, at 564 meters above sea level, it gets the early morning sun but goes into shadow early in the evening.  It too has had a small influx of foreigners, also around 40, and it is a friendly place.  Ben and Joan is larger than Monty Jack and has more amenities, such as a clinic, football pitch, petrol station and repair garage, a newsagents and a florists.

Both villages are about 20 minutes by road from magical Ronda, the highest of the three at 739 metres and the largest town hereabouts.  Big Ron has a population of around 34,000, over 1,400 of them foreigners.  Whilst the Ciudad Soñada (City of Dreams) has most amenities and is a great town, Montejaque and Benaoján are quieter and slap bang in the middle of the most spectacular scenery you could wish to see.  The whole of the Guadiaro Valley is a delightful area for a holiday, or even better, for living in.

Why not come and see us?  There is plenty of holiday rental accommodation of differing types and to suit all tastes and pockets, or your dream house could be just waiting there for you to discover it.

More information:

The following website provides listings and other information on the area:

Recommended holiday rentals:

Casa Rita, Montejaque -

Casa Real, Montejaque – 3 Bedroom (Sleeps 6) House in Montejaque, Málaga (P50774) - No Booking Fees (  


About the author:

After taking early retirement from his career in the UK, Paul Whitelock lived on and off in Ronda for five years before settling permanently in the area in 2008. He lived in Montejaque for three years with his second wife before they moved to Fuente de la Higuera, just outside Ronda, where they still live after 13 years.  As for Benaoján he used to buy his Sunday paper there and Estación de Benaoján is home to one of his favourite restaurants.

Semi-retired, he dabbles in house renovations, as well as gardening and writing. He also offers a translation, interpreting, holiday rental and homefinder service. He can be contacted at

Copyright: Paul Whitelock 2024