Ronda sits in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda 100 km from Malaga, it is a place that literally takes your breath away when seeing it.
Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain. Neolithic remains have been found in the old town, but there are samples of Palaeolithic rock art in the city’s surroundings, in the Cueva de la Pileta. In the surroundings of Ronda are the remains of the city of Acinipo, an important enclave of the Roman colonization of the Iberian Peninsula.
During the Middle Ages, under Arab domination of the Peninsula, Ronda was consolidated as an important city, becoming the capital of Takurunna, one of the provinces in which Al-Ándalus (Muslim Spain) was divided, and later becoming In independent kingdom, during the period of existence of the called taifas kingdoms. Later, during the Nasrid kingdom of Granada, Ronda played an important role as a border town between the territory conquered by Christians and Muslim rule.
The conquest of Ronda by the Catholic Kings, in 1485, was a very important change in the aspect of the city, with the introduction of urban and architectural novelties. But it is in the eighteenth century when Ronda acquires the most defining features of his current physiognomy: the Bullring and the New Bridge. In the 19th century, travelers and banditry formed the basis of Ronda’s romantic perception between reality and legend. Ronda and its mountains have been shaped as an important part of the material and immaterial heritage of Andalusia.
Ronda sits in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda, about 100 kms from the city of Malaga and with a population of approximately 35,000 inhabitants. Surrounded by lush river valleys and sitting above a deep ravine, it is a place that literally takes your breath away when seeing it.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Ronda will understand its appeal. It is one of the most beautiful and visited cities in Spain (the third most visited city in Andalucia).
Here are 9 must-sees for your day trip to Ronda
Offering unforgettable views over the El Tajo gorge. The Puente Nuevo (new bridge) was actually completed in 1793 and took forty two years to build. The bridge joins the old Moorish town and the newer area, Puente Nuevo is the most famous landmark in Ronda.
One of Spain’s most famous Parador hotels sits adjacent to the bridge and is a well worth a visit. The views of the El Tajo gorge are unforgettable.
If you have the time, walk down into the gorge along the Camino de los Molinos. The views are the best to be had. In Spring the whole valley floor is awash with flowers.
The Real Maestranza bullring is one of the oldest and most picturesque in Spain. It was built in 1785 by the architect Jose Martin Aldehuela, the same architect who built the Puente Nuevo. The ring can hold up to 5000 spectators.
Francisco Romero, born in Ronda in 1695, is credited with giving bullfighting its modern day rules with the introduction of the cape and the muleta. His grandson, Pedro Romero (1754-1839) became one of Spain’s greatest bullfighters. He founded the Ronda School for Bullfighting, it is still known today for its classicism and strict adherence to the rules. There’s a museum and guided audio tours around the bullfighting ring.
The price of entry is 7€ per person and 9€ with an audio-guide.
The Arabic baths in Ronda are the best preserved in Spain. They were built at the end of the 13th century during the reign of King Abomelik. The large cauldron used to heat the water is still visible and in good condition. The star-shaped vents in the roof were modeled after the ceiling of the more famous bathhouse at the Alhambra in Granada.
The Mondragon palace is home to the municipal museum and some truly outstanding gardens. Built originally in 1314 by the Moorish King Abomelik, it was later used a the primary residence for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
The museum is devoted to Ronda’s rich history with examples of Roman and Moorish tombs. The gardens are exceptionally beautiful and offer a real island of tranquillity.
Legend has it that this was the residence of the Moorish King, Almonated, who is said to have drank wine from the skulls of his enemies. Although more recent evidence seems to indicate that the King never actually lived in the building. Today’s structure was completed in the 18th century and completely remodeled in 1920 by the Duchess of Parcent. The gardens were designed by the same French architect who designed the Maria Luisa Park in Seville, Jean Claude Forestier.
The gardens give access to La Mina (the mine), an Islamic staircase of 231 steps which have been careful cut into the rock and lead down the river.
For centuries La Mina was the only source of water into the city, with slaves chained to the steps to pass water bags upwards. This water supply was a lifeline to the Moors during the various Christian sieges.
Throughout history, Ronda has been one of Andalusia’s most impregnable cities. Mainly owing to its geographical position, but also to a series of city walls and gates which were built by the Moors throughout the Islamic era. These walls and gates were continually being added to as the city grew. Today, they provide a unique glimpse into Ronda’s past.
Visitors in Moorish times to Ronda would have entered the city via the Puente Arabe, eventually entering the city centre by going through the now decrepit Puerte de la Cijara. The largest and most protected city gate was the Almocabar one. It took its name from the Arabic cemetery (al-maqabir) which stood in this section of the town. The Almocabar gate faces Gibraltar and the sea and would have been a main point of entry for most people.
The Murallas del Carmen is particularly picturesque and has recently been reformed. It sets the scene numerous cultural events and has the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo, the Church of the Holy Spirit standing just next to it.
Plaza Duquesa de Parcent is Ronda’s most picturesque square and one that is brimming with monuments. The Santa Maria del Mayor church is the highlight, a church which took over 200 years to build and is a mixture of gothic and Renaissance styles.
Other squares that come recommended are Plaza del Socorro, the square in front of the Almocabar Gate and around Calle Nuevo.
The Cuenca Gardens are located on the ledges of the Tajo and distributed across a series of terraces. The views are fantastic and give you a unique and differing perspective of the city.
The terraces have been dedicated to Ronda’s sister city of Cuenca. An agreement that was originally signed between the cities in 1975.
One of the most popular viewpoints of the city and with good reason. The views of the gorge, the Puente Nuevo and the surrounding countryside are spectacular.
The viewpoint has been named in honour of the architect José Martin de Aldehuela. The same architect who built the bullring, the Puente Nuevo and finished Malaga’s cathedral amongst other projects. The Balcón del Coño viewpoint is another that should not be missed.