Ronda is built on a rocky outcrop and is split in half by deep river gorge the El Tajo created by the river Guadalevin. This gorge is spanned by an 18th century arched bridge, the Puento Nuevo, and tall whitewashed houses perch along the edge. Amazing!
* Puento Nuevo bridge spanning the gorge
* View over El Tajo gorge from the Parador of Ronda
* Exploring the old town
We visited Ronda as an overnight trip from Seville taking a bus from the Prado de San Sebastian. It is an enjoyable 2 hour drive and Ronda warrants at least an overnight stay when you get here.
The city is split into two by the gorge. Most of the sights lie on the south side amongst the whitewashed houses and cobbled alleys. This is the old town of Ronda and is very charming. As you walk round there are many places where you get views of the plains below and the mountains beyond. There are also a good number of bars and restaurants where you have the views whilst you eat - wonderful.
Really a visit to Ronda is wonderful for its perched position, views and lovely atmosphere. You can walk down to the river or walk part way down for some fabulous views back over the town and its main bridge - the incredible Puente Nueve (new bridge) but it also has some interesting sights as you wander around.
Ronda is most famous for the Puenta Nueve, an incredibly feat of engineering which straddles the 100 meter deep El Tajo gorge. There is an information centre giving more information about the building of the bridge.
This town was one of the last parts of the Moorish empire to fall and it has left a strong influence. It can be seen particularly in the Palacio de Mondragon which is an attractive Moorish palace with gardens and courtyards. Its water gardens are miniature replicas of those at the Generalife in Granada and the gardens and vistas over the countryside are lovely. The building has Mudejar ceilings and Moorish mosaics. though iIt also houses the museum of Ronda and the exhibits tend to detract from the palace.
The Santa Maria la Mayor church is an attractive mix of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The minaret survives from the 13th century mosque which existed before the church as does a Mirhab arch and a part of the wall behind the altar is decorated with Moorish ornaments. The church with its large bell tower built on the Moorish Minaret and its large size dominates the skyline of Ronda. In front of the church is a lovely square, a very pleasant place to relax.
Another interesting sight in Ronda is the hanging gardens of Casa del Rey Moro, an 18th century mansion. The mansion is currently being renovated but the gardens that surround the place have been open to the public since 1943. The gardens were designed by Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, a French landscape designer and created in 1912. The design has been preserved and incorporates splendid views over the dramatic countryside, the gorge and the mountains.
The Casa del Rey Moro is also the entrance to a Water Mine. The Water Mine was built by slaves and was used to haul up water for the city. You can walk down the steep steps of the mine to the river and up again - be warned this is quite a climb. The Casa del Rey Moro is one of the palaces visited by Michelle Obama on her 2012 trip to Spain. She also visited the house of St John Bosco, another of the palaces overlooking the gorge.
The Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra is a little further along the same street. This 16th century mansion has biblical scenes and South American Indians carved on its facade.
On the edge of town are the Arab Baths which were built in the 11th century and still used in the 17th century. They are one of the best preserved in Europe. The baths are located next to the Puente Arabe (the Arab bridge) - one of the entrances to the city. This is because it was necessary to be purified to enter the city.
There are three bridges in total which span the gorge, the tallest and most famous is the Puente Nuevo. This seperates the old town of Ronda from the newer town and next to it is the former town hall which is now a parador and has fabulous views over the gorge. If you can treat yourself to a night here. It is lovely and has such great views from its gardens. If you can't stay here don't worry you can visit for lunch or coffee on its lovely outside patio overlooking the views!
Ronda is also home to one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. This is considered to be one of the most important and fans flock in in September for the Corrida Goyesca. The bullring is very beautiful and was used for the video of Madonna's ' Take a Bow'. As well as the bullring you can visit the stables and the bullfighting museum.
Ronda was a favourite of both Orson Wells and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway lived here for a while and wrote of Ronda's beauty and bullfighting traditions. In his book ' For Whom the Bell Tolls' about the brutality of the Spanish Civil War, one of the scenes is thought to be based on the killings that took place in Ronda at the El Tajo cliffs.
Places to Visit Nearby
Surrounding Ronda are lots of charming white villages known collectively as the 'Serrania de Ronda'. A couple of day trips out from Ronda will give you the opportunity to visit most of them.
5km out of Ronda you can visit the Reservatauro Ronda which is a breeding farm for bullfighting bulls and horses and gives you a glimpse into the bullfighting culture. It is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
Seville is not to be missed. It is one of our favourite places in Spain and is just 2 hours away by bus.