by Taetske | 3:35 pm
(Last Updated On: October 16, 2018)

 

 

Our visit to Ronda, a unique town in the south of Spain

 

When Michael came to live in Spain, I knew there would be many places to show him. So the other day we decided to make a day trip to Ronda, which is about 1 hours drive from where we live. The weather was a lovely 29C with hardly a cloud in the sky, guaranteeing good photographs of this trip. The road to Ronda winds up and into the mountains, giving some great views of the coast. Along the road, there was a small cafe where we had a coffee stop and then continued on our way.

 

Arriving at Ronda

There is a convenient underground parking garage, Martinez Astein,  in the town within easy walking distance to many of the unique sites in Ronda. From there, we walked downhill through the main shopping street Carrera Espinel, which was packed with people from all over the world. A cacophony of languages. One should point out the unusual balconies, which look like birdcages.

 

Birdcage balcony in Ronda

Birdcage balcony in Ronda

 

Nice Souvenirs

There are a lot of souvenir shops in Ronda, hand-painted fans going from 6 Euros to more pricey ones. Obviously the more expensive the fan, the more delicate the painting is. You will also find embroidered table clothes and in a small side street to the left, just before you cross the bridge is a tiny shop for original handbags.

 

A balcony on the main shopping street

A balcony on the main shopping street

 

A very old town

Ronda is one of the jewels of Andalusia. One of the oldest towns in Spain and known worldwide for its uniqueness and beauty. The town is situated on a plateau 739 m above sea level. There have been archaeological findings which are dated into the Neolithic period but it is believed humans were here long before. There are some great cave drawings in the Cueva de la Pileta dating from the Paleolithic period.

 

View from the bridge direction town

View from the bridge direction town

 

The arrival of the Romans

During the ages, it has been the home to a variety of settlers.  The Roman Empire expanded out of Italy and in the long run, with the defeat of Hannibal, came to the Iberian Peninsula and Ronda was woken up from a peaceful sleep. This was the time Ronda received its first name.  Arunda actually means surrounded by mountains so instead of a real name, it was merely a description.

 

Romantic Travelers

Romantic Travelers

Acinipo and Arunda

Battles destroyed the district castle and town.  In the 1st century, AD peace was restored and the city of Acinipo neighboring Arunda became the most important Roman town in the area. Acinipo actually means “Land of Wines” and also grew from a small Iberian settlement. It boasted of having an amphitheater and was even allowed to mint its own coins. It became one of the most important Roman towns in Iberia.

 

Looking down from the bridge

Looking down from the bridge

Vandals and Visigoths

Afterward, a lot of different tribes came, such as the Germanic Vandals and the Visigoths. During this period it was rarely ever peaceful. More battles were fought over a period of various hundred years. In the year 554, the Justinian army took control of the coastal southern part of Spain, included the Balearic Islands. A new province, under the name of Hispania, was formed inside the Eastern Roman Empire. Malaga, Almeria, Cadiz, Cartagena, and Valencia all forming part of this new province. By that time, the town of Acinipo had been destroyed, but today you can still visit the ruins.

 

Walking down the cobblestone street

Walking down the cobblestone street

The Islamic period

Ronda achieved its zenith in the Middle Ages. In those times Ronda was a really small town but it would play a key role in the following historical events in this region of Spain. It became a safe haven for fleeing Muslims after their defeat in Granada. The Islamic period had a huge influence on the region, and a big cultural legacy was left and is still visible today.

You can still see the Islamic influence in the urban design. The way of cooking and traditions all point to that time. Walking through the town you will come upon many reminders of Ronda’s golden age.

In times of war, the water supply was of utmost importance. You can still visit the water mine of the Casa del Rey Moro and even if it never was the house of a Moorish king, the water mine definitely is from those times. The house is from a much later date built in the 18th Century. The beautiful garden, which has some fabulous views, was designed by the French landscape gardener Jean Claude Forestier, in 1912

 

Sitting in the garden of the Casa del Rey Moro

Sitting in the garden of the Casa del Rey Moro

 

The Moorish king Abomelik

In the 14th Century, the town was constantly besieged. The Moorish king Abomelik is said to have used Christian captives to cut out the stone steps in the wall of the gorge so to get at the water. The slaves were then positioned on the steps in a long line, relaying full water skins up. In those times the steps were said to be 365 in total, some got lost, one does not know how but now there are less than 300. The staircase fell into disrepair and was in a bad shape but was restored in 1911.

 

The Casa del Rey Moro

When you cross the bridge you find, to your left, a quite steep and cobblestone paved narrow road which will lead you to the Casa del Rey Moro. The building is being restored and the mine could also use a bit of work done. Personally, I think it really would be a good idea, as I visited the water mine on my trip to Ronda.

 

The staircase of the Water Mine

The staircase of the Water Mine

 

Down into the water mine

The lower part of the winding staircase is wet and slippery, the handrail is loose in some places and the lighting is not the best. It gives you a real feel of the place of how it must have been before modern electricity.

 

One of the rooms on the way down

One of the rooms on the way down

You pass some chambers with high ceilings and windows cut into the canyon wall, where there is an unusual echo. When you finally reach the bottom, you come out on a steel platform to a quiet protected stream.

 

On the way down to the water

On the way down to the water

 

It is very peaceful with birds nesting on the rocks and one does not hear any noise. It is a step back in time. Then comes the moment you realize you have to walk up all those steps again.

 

The water at the bottom of the Mine

The water at the bottom of the Mine

 

The total is a real exercise and my legs hurt for days after I climbed up the last steps to daylight. Being time to have a little lunch, we settled in at a small restaurant on the same street.

 

Lunchtime and a well-deserved rest

Lunchtime and a well-deserved rest

The Catholics kings

When the town was conquered in 1485 by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, a period of economic and cultural upheaval was started. A lot of new things were added to an already beautiful town, new squares and the widening of the streets plus a large number of churches, convents, and monasteries. Ronda became a beautiful blend of Baroque and Renaissance, together with its lingering Arabic features. A very unusual and impressive mixture which makes Ronda really unforgettable.

 

Beautiful view from El Puente Nuevo

Beautiful view from El Puente Nuevo

 

The famous bridge

In the 18th century, 2 landmarks of Ronda were built. The famous bullring, oldest in Spain in the sense that there the first corrida took place and the world famous and impressive bridge which links the 2 city parts together. By 1542, the people in Ronda had wanted a bridge to be built to connect La Cuidad (the city) to a higher point lying across the gorge. That area was long and flat and would be ideal for the expansion of the town. It was badly needed for building as Ronda was getting crowded. It took a while to get the permission for this bridge but in the 1700’s century construction finally started. Ultimately, the El Mercadillo and La Cuidad were connected saving the people a lot of time.

 

A catastrophe hits Ronda

The original bridge was not built very well and because of the intensive traffic, the bridge collapsed in 1741, taking 50 people to their death in the gorge below. As the work had stalled on rebuilding the bridge, Jose Martin de Aldehuela was called. He was considered a top architect in Andalusia at that time, and he was the one who designed the New Bridge. His bridge turned out to be beautiful, a real piece of art and is the most photographed bridge of the whole of Spain.

 

Spectacular view from the bridge

Spectacular view from the bridge

 

El Puente Nuevo

The bridge, which today is known as Puente Nuevo, gives you a delightful and impressive view far over the beautiful landscape with mountains in the distance. Famous people have dwelt in Ronda. The writings of Rainer Marie Rilke who stayed in the famous hotel Reina Victoria. Sadly this hotel which still had the looks of bygone times was taken over and refurbished some 6 years ago. The location is still lovely but the hotel itself has lost its charm.

Standing on the bridge you might feel a bit dizzy looking down into the gorge. Ronda is also known as “the Eagles Nest” as it is so high up in the mountains. People in old times always looked for such spots to build their towns as one had to count with invaders.

 

Ronda’s bullring

The bullring of Ronda is considered the birthplace of the modern bullfighting style. The construction for the bullring started in 1779 and was finished in 1785. In old times the fighting of the bull would be from horseback. It would take many years to train a horse to elegantly dance in the arena just a few centimeters away from the bull’s horns. I once saw a bullfight like that in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol. The famous Peralta brothers on horseback, a real event. The bull was not killed, it was a beautiful dance between 2 animals.

 

The Bull statue in front of the bullring

The Bull statue in front of the bullring

 

Pedro Jimenez, Ronda’s famous bullfighter broke away from that time bullfighting style on horseback. This happened in the 18th century and up till today this new type of confronting the bull on foot is used in traditional corridas.

The bullfighter’s outfit is called “Traje de Luces” meaning suit of Lights. This is due to the silver and gold threads that are used in making the beautiful embroidery. Once a year the famous Corrida Goyesca bullfight is held in the arena. Ernest Hemingway used to come every year during his life and his ashes are in Ronda. Ordonez, one of Spains most famous bullfighters had the ashes put in a well on his estate. This world-famous Corrida is a highlight during the Feria de Pedro Romero, held in the first week of September.  People and bullfighters alike dress up in clothes from Goyas time. It is a long-standing tradition and a social event where you will be able to see many known faces.

 

There are so many interesting things to visit that I will list a few more.

The museum at the bullring will give you insight in its history

The Banos Arabes, the Arabic Baths in Ronda, is one of the best preserved in Spain, together with the ones in Granada. They were in continual use for some 600 years. These baths were situated outside the old walls of the town close to one of the few original remaining bridges of Ronda, El Puente Arabe. From there you can start a long walk deep in the Tajo going in front of the bridge from below. It will give you some spectacular angles for taking good photographs. Put on good walking shoes.

The Mondragon Palace. It was built in 1314 and Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand used it as their residence when visiting Ronda. Nowadays it is the Ronda Municipal Museum where you will find a permanent collection on the history of the village. You should visit the palace gardens as they will give you a beautiful view of the old town.

 

Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra, 4 Inca figures on entrance

Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra, 4 Inca figures on entrance

 

Do explore this lovely place. It will give you memories which will last a lifetime. On returning home that evening, after having taken a different route home through the mountains, we felt tired but content and Michael absolutely loved his first visit to Ronda.

 

Source: My Life

Photo Source: Private

 

Andalusia offers so many beautiful places, perhaps you care to read this post.

A great trip to the impressive limestone formations

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Stratos K

What a lovely article. It really traveled me far away reading it. I have been to Spain a few years ago and it really has amazing places to visit. I haven’t been to Ronda but it looks like a nice place to go. So many places I want to go but so little time. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us!

Oct 18.2018 | 12:19 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Stratos,

    I am happy you liked my article. I do hope that when you visit Spain again you will find time to visit Ronda as it is really special.

    Thank you for your visit and comment,

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 18.2018 | 02:29 pm

Albert

I’ve visited Barcelona and I must admit that I love the Spain culture. Ronda is in a bit far from Barcelona but I will definitely plan to visit it next time I am traveling to Spain. An old town full of historical sights is very exciting for me. I am especially interested in visiting the water mine and the El Puente Nuevo bridge. Thanks for sharing.

Oct 18.2018 | 12:24 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Albert,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my website. Ronda is approx 1000km away from Barcelona. I hope you will see Ronda on your next visit to Spain. The Water Mine is a must see but try to be in good condition as the walking down and then up all those steps is tiring.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 18.2018 | 02:33 pm

      Albert

      Thanks for your tips. I am always ready to walk miles when I’m on a trip 🙂

      Oct 20.2018 | 01:22 pm

        Taetske

        Good afternoon Albert,

        You are welcome. I hope you can come one day to see the beauty of Ronda, it is well worth your effort.
        I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

        Regards, Taetske

        Oct 20.2018 | 01:31 pm

Norman

Thank you for sharing this VERY APPEALING post! The photos are stunning, particularly those of and from the “Puente Nuevo”. Ronda looks like a very peaceful and compelling, family friendly getaway…a place where you don’t rush about, but take your time, and gently take in everything around you. I’m an avid reader, and I could probably spend days in the garden of Casa del Rey Moro, reading my favorite authors and completely losing myself. 

Thanks for the trip – I’m going to have to plan a visit to Ronda with my family in the very near-future. 

All the best!

Oct 18.2018 | 12:30 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Norman,

    I really hope you will be able to visit this lovely place with your family. If one can forget all the tourists for a moment one can imagine how it must have been in old times. There are so many things to see that 1 day is too short. To have time to spend a few days would be better to really absorb everything. If you really should come to the Costa del Sol do not hesitate to contact me.

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my website.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 18.2018 | 02:39 pm

Kisumu

I really love the way you write. I have been to Spain but not in Ronda, so it is my new aim now to to get there and visit this city and this is because of your review. Whenever we go somewhere, we want to know about the history of the town, and you wrote so much about it. I really like that it dates back even to the Roman Empire (I read that even earlier but I guess that the Roman Empire is the first that we can see). I am fond of these little streets and Moorish architecture. 

I guess that it would be too hot to visit at summer. When do you think it would be the best time of the year to visit? We really love to see everything in the towns we visit, so it is better if it’s not too hot to walk around all day.

Oct 18.2018 | 12:32 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Kisumu,

    Ronda is worth a visit and if you have the time dedicate at least 2 days to this impressive town as there is so much to see. Good walking shoes are a must as those old cobblestone streets take some practicing.

    A lovely month to visit the south of Spain would be May, or September as the temperatures could very well be around 30C. I would not recommend the months of June, July, and August as it will be hotter and high season. Ronda is never empty as I could see during my visit in October. In the winter one might have lovely sunny weather on the coast with 20 C but Ronda might have snow, or at least on the surrounding mountains and temperatures will be low.

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 19.2018 | 07:04 am

Stacie

There is a lot of history in this article that is for sure! I leared a lot reading it. 

I wonder why the bars on the windows are made to look like birdcages? Was there a reason or was it just the “in” thing to do?

Is there a market place that brings in tourist as well or is it just the history of the village in general that draws one there?

I am very interested in the bridge Puente Nuevo, I would love to visit it, I am very affaraid of heights, but it sounds too breath taking to not visit and learn more about.

I wonderr why they changed the bullfighting from horseback to foot? It sounded more like an art form when preformed from horseback.

Thank you for posting such an informative article about Ronda, Spain. 

Stacie

Oct 18.2018 | 12:36 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Stacie,

    Thank you for your comment and also questions which I will try to answer.

    Normally all towns up to a small village have their weekly market. Even if a market can be fun I think that Ronda has so many things for the visitor to see that the historical sights will be the real magnet for getting visitors.

    The birdcages are beautiful and very elaborate. I have not been able to find out why they were built like this. One thing is sure, when in old times the senoritas were not allowed to walk without a chaperone on the street this was the best and safe option to see their suitors.

    During the Visigoth rule of the Iberian Peninsula 415 to 711 bullfighting on horseback became popular. In the 15th century, it became a sport for the aristocracy. Queen Isabella did not like it. Pope Pius V banned it completely. He even refused Christian burial for those who died in the arena. 8 Years later this ban was lifted again as it became clear that bullfighting was here to stay. King Philip V forbade it at royal events but the people had already adopted this new sports.

    It is said that in 1726 Francisco Romero finished his performance on foot and as the public liked it so much from then on fighting the bull on foot became the new way.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 18.2018 | 02:27 pm

Ngonidzashe Manzwangani

I have visited so many places of attraction but from the way it looks, Ronda is missing on that list, what a captivating story. I love the view from the bridge direction town, I feel like I am already in Ronda Town right a I was reading the article. My next travel, I will be definitely be visiting that ancient town. Thank you so much

Oct 18.2018 | 01:14 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Ngonidzashe,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my website. The photographs can give you an impression but I promise to see Ronda, in reality, is even more spectacular. I do hope you will be able to come one day and see it for yourself.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 19.2018 | 06:53 am

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