Ronda is a small town in Andalusia and it’s a popular spot for tourists, especially because of its super tall bridge that transcends a deep valley. I opted to go here as part of a day trip but I have to be honest; the blog posts I found made it sound like there wasn’t much to do in this small town. When I got there as part of an organised trip, we were given a good walking tour and a little over an hour to explore. That was not nearly enough time. The town actually has a large number of things to do, especially for people who love architecture.
With all my highlight blog posts, I aim to tell you what I did. However, I also hope to inform you about what I missed.
A little bit of history: Like many other Andalusian towns, Ronda has a lengthy history that dates back to prehistoric and Roman times. It fell into the hands of the visigoths, the Arabs, and the Christians. In 713, Ronda was even the capital of a province called Tacoronna. Bullfighting even originates as an organised sport in Ronda. Dating to the 18th century, Ronda holds Spain’s first bullfighting ring and they celebrate their heritage with a festival (more below). More recently, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent a lot of time in Ronda. You can see their sculptures in the city today.
Unfortunately, the city suffered an earthquake within recent centuries – probably the one of 1884 – that destroyed much of the town. Though you’ll see Ronda is quite beautiful, the town did need to be rebuilt and most of it is not very ancient.
Of course the main attraction of Ronda is the bridge, which actually is very impressive in person. It’s called Puente Nuevo and it was completed in 1793 to connect the “old town” and the “new town” together. If you’re inclined to get a complete photo of the bridge, you can take a path down at the intersection of Calle Tenorio and Calle Sor Angela De La Cruz. The photo area takes about 20 minutes to get to from the bridge itself, but does of course involve a steep uphill climb back. You can also get good views at Casa don Bosco (more on that below).
The city is super pleasant to walk around. If you want a good view of the countryside, Mirador de Ronda has a beautiful garden with a cliff overhang. It’s right next to the bullfighting ring of Ronda, the oldest one in Spain. You can still visit the bullfighting ring but they actually don’t have bullfights here except for during their big festival, Feria de Pedro Romero. This is the bullfighting festival I alluded to. Our tour guide said that you can also take the elevator atop Hotel Catalonia Ronda to get a bird’s eye view inside the ring if you want that photo. Near the bullfighting ring, you can also see some statues of Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway.
Some other popular places to stop by include Iglesia de la Merced and Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor. The former is home to the hand of Saint Theresa of Avila, who is known to have not decayed after her death. The latter dates back to the Muslim occupation, and is said to have been a site of worship since the Roman era. Some less popular spots to see include two older bridges, Puente Viejo and the Arab Bridge, which isn’t super attractive but is centuries old! Many people also don’t realise that Ronda still has its old walls. If you go towards the south of the town, you can see Puerta de Almocábar and some of the old city walls. They date back about 800 years!
In this area, you can also see the ruins of Castillo del Laurel and the Alcazaba. However these are ruins you can’t officially visit.
There are also several buildings you can go into. I opted to visit Casa don Basco, which has great views of the Puente Nuevo without the walk. It’s a house museum which is very cute, but is not particularly special against some other places. However, the gardens are small but absolutely gorgeous. The tiles, the view, the flowers, the fountain, and the alcove – they’re all very delightful. Entry is only about 2 euros so I highly recommend stopping by. Other travellers on my tour opted to see the Casa del Rey Moro, which they enjoyed as well. What’s unique is that it’s a water mine, and you can go down and see the river from the house. It looks very beautiful in pictures.
Also beautiful in pictures, Mondragon Palace also looks amazing. I wish I’d had time to visit here as well. Also worth mentioning are the Arab Baths, which are well preserved and – as you can guess – date back centuries to the Arab rule of Ronda.
Ronda also has a few smaller museums and places to see, but it really is a charming place to walk around. I really enjoyed it and wish I could’ve stayed to see a few more sites. If you go to Ronda, which I do recommend, you should spend several hours or a day there. A lot of people stop by to see the bridge but there’s so much more to Ronda than that. It’s definitely one of the best places I got to visit in Spain.
Have you ever been to Ronda? What did you think?
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Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Destinations
Tags: andalusia, europe, pueblos blancos, ronda, spain