Not even Ernest Hemingway himself could produce a book long enough to fully extrapolate Ronda’s history. You know you’re in an old city when it’s more recent history dates back to the Roman era, during which Roman legions used it as a commercial centre. Later, the city fell to the Moors and became a minor Arab emirate.
While Ronda provides a perfect base from which to explore the diverse mountain ranges that surround it, it’s a destination in and of itself, with monuments that pay homage to its history and sights that reveal its majesty.
Plaza de Toros
Ronda is famed for its bullring, the oldest one in all of Spain, where Pedro Romero invented modern bullfighting as we know it, to which Hemingway paid tribute. “There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda,” Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon. “That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any direction is romantic background.”
– Ernest Hemingway
In Deep and Up Close
On the edge of Europe, long a cultural crucible with phenomenal Moorish architecture and laid-back Spanish friendliness, Andalucia quickens the senses and makes even a café con leche thrilling. Ready to go?
The Roman Bridge
Despite its name, this bridge actually only dates back to the period of Arab occupation, and its low elevation has made it the victim of several floods. The bridge is also known as the Tannery Bridge, probably because of its former proximity to the Arab tanneries that, naturally, would have been located outside the town.
The Old Bridge
This bridge also dates back to the time of the Arabs (some say it was built during the reign of Mohammed III of Granada). After the Christian reconquest, it had to be almost completely restored. In the beginning of the 17th century, the bridge was damaged once again (this time in a flood), but was restored by 1616.
El Tajo de Ronda
El Tajo de Ronda is the name that the Rondeños give to the bridge, also called the New Bridge, which links the old town with the new high above the river Guadalevin. The first attempt at building the bridge in 1735 was a failure. While it took only eight months to complete the one-arch bridge, it collapsed just six years later, taking fifty people with it. In 1751, another attempt was made. This time the construction lasted 42 years. The river has carved a canyon over the centuries that is 100 metres deep, and half a kilometre long. More recently, the main part of the bridge served as a jail for the region’s most dangerous criminals. (No B&R guide has spent a night here—yet.)
The Arab Baths
Built towards the end of the 13th century, these were the principal baths of the town during the Arab domination. The building consists of three main chambers of varying temperatures.
Las Minas de la Casa del Rey Moro
Also dating to the Arab occupation of the city, this was a secret mine whose security depended on how secure the town was. It has 365 steps down to a source of water, and, in the middle, many rooms for storing weapons, animals and tools to resist any Christian siege. Legend says that Christians arrested by the Moors ended up carrying water upstairs to the end of their days.
About the Author
Veteran B&R Guide turned Trip Planner Nancy Towns‘ love of all things Spanish has taken her from the cloud forests of Argentina to the bullfighting rings of Andalucia.
Banner Image: Mihael Grmek
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