Ronda: the home of bullfighting, frozen above the abyss
Speaking of Spain, we often picture Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia… While the Spaniards themselves would say that the heart of their country is hidden in a small town of Ronda, Andalusia, with a population of 30,000 people. And they are right … Spain has something to surprise the most demanding tourist … But Ronda is a knockout.
Surprisingly photogenic small town with terracotta white houses, sprawled out on a high cliff divided by a deep 120-meter gorge-crack in half. In fact, postcards depicting the Puente Nuevo bridge over the gorge are Ronda’s calling card.
But this is only at first glance. In fact, Ronda is the historical embodiment of many eras that have made the history of modern Spain.
Ronda – the rich history of Andalusia
The predecessor of Ronda – the city of Arunda – was built by the Celts in the IV century BC. Then, from the II century AD the city was ruled by Rome. It was the Romans who laid the city at its current location. Arunda belonged to the province of Betica, enjoyed Latin law as in Rome, and even minted its own coins. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Arunda was ruled by the Visigoths.
It was the Moors, who invaded in 713, who renamed the town Hisn Ar Runda (“Castle of Runda”). They also built the modern historic center of La Ciudad, which is now south of the ravine. The Moors fortified the city so beautifully that the Spanish, during the Reconquista, after liberating the entire neighborhood of Ronda for several centuries, were unable to take the city. It did not return under the rule of the Castilian kings until 1485.
The Spaniards had already expanded the city north of the ravine by building El Mercadillo. And here is the famous Puente Nuevo bridge across the Guadalevin River, as it turns out, the youngest bridge in Ronda, built in 1793. To be clear, the bridge opened just after the opening of Spain’s oldest bullring in 1785.
But Ronda’s fate was bypassed by the events of the Spanish Civil War. Local socialists during the military clashes executed here about half a thousand Falangists – supporters of General Franco, dropping them into a ravine.
But first things first.
20 reasons to see Ronda
The first place to see the sights of Ronda is the southern Arab part of the city – La Ciudad. This part of Ronda still retains the character of the old Moorish city, with narrow squares, narrow streets and old houses. Arab and medieval Spanish flavors are intertwined here.
Here are hidden the main treasures of the city – the house of the Moorish king, the palace of the Marquis Salvatierra and the church of Santa Maria la Mayor.
And in general, from the southern part of the Moorish city is bounded by the city wall and the Almocabar Gate (Plazuela Arquitecto Francisco Pons Sorolla), built in the XIII century.
Behind them begins the old Ronda. In the first quarter, we encounter the majestic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit – La Iglesia del Espíritu Santo (Calle Espíritu Santo, 15). This is Ronda’s first Catholic church, built immediately after the Reconquista, in 1485. It can be seen from afar because it looks more like a Gothic fortress than a church. All because the authorities feared raids on the city.
The jewel of this Arab part of Ronda is the ancient church of Santa Maria la Mayor – Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor (Calle Sor Angela de la Cruz, 5). The fact is that the church is a rebuilt Arab mosque. Even now it looks strange, combining Arab features with Gothic ones. Connoisseurs will easily see a niche in the wall of the building-the former Mihrab-which clearly points to Mecca. It is now Ronda’s main active temple. On the temple’s bell tower is one of the city’s observation decks.
Immediately behind the temple is the beautiful ensemble of the Palace of Mondragon – Palacio de Mondragon XIV century, which seems to hang on the very edge of the cliff above the precipice. This beautiful Moorish-style palace was the residence of the Moorish rulers of Ronda. After the Reconquista the Spanish kings settled here. Today it is a museum with perfectly preserved interiors and an exhibition of the Museum of Primitive History.
It is very close to the main street of Ronda, Calle Armiñán. Be sure to return here in the evening when it gets dark to enjoy the unhurried life of the Spanish countryside. However, during the daytime, do not forget to visit two very interesting museums.
- First is the Museum of Bandits and Robbers – Museo del Bandolero (Calle Armiñán, 65), which literally swarmed Andalusia in the Middle Ages and early twentieth century. The bandits lived in the mountains surrounding Ronda. There is a collection of weapons, photographs of bandoleros and preserved documents. The cost of admission is € 4.
- Secondly, it would be a mistake not to visit the Museo Lara (Calle Armiñán, 29). The museum is located in one of the palaces of the city and is completely dedicated to black magic and witchcraft. Of course, this is only at first glance. In fact, if you look more critically at the mummy in the coffin, the exhibition is very scientific and tells mainly about the history of the Holy Inquisition in Spain. There is also a collection of instruments of torture. Admission to the museum is € 4 .
- Not far from the museum you will find the Palacio de Congresos de Ronda – the former Convento de Santo Domingo (Calle Armiñán, 1) – where meetings of the tribunal of the Inquisition actually took place.
- Thirdly, we should remember that Andalusia is the heart and soul of European winemaking. And here in Ronda is located the Museum of Wine – Museo del vino de Ronda . There are also collections and exhibits that tell the story of thousands of years of local wine-making traditions. A trip there costs €5.
To the east of Armignane is the famous fake Ronda – Casa del Rey Moro or the House of the Moorish King (Calle Cuesta de Santo Domingo, 9). Although it really is in the Moorish style, few tourists are interested in the date of its construction. And it is only the 18th century, that is, three centuries after Ronda came under the Spanish crown. Nevertheless, the palace was built on the ruins of a Moorish well. The well itself has survived. Now at its bottom, which corresponds to the bottom of the gorge, that is, about 600 meters you can go down. The ticket for an adult costs € 7, children under 12 € 3,5.
Further along the ravine it is not difficult to find some of the oldest structures of the city – the Arabian baths – Banos Arabes (Calle Molino de Alarcón). They are thermal baths built along the spring of Arroyo de las Culebras. Like the ancient Roman baths, the complex has cold, warm and hot baths (the heating system was completely hydraulic). The complex was built in XIII-XV centuries. Cost of visit: € 3.5.
Actually here ends the main attractions of the Arab part of the city – La Ciudad. Behind it – the dizzying 120-meter canyon of El Tajo and the famous Puente Nuevo bridge, bridged to the Spanish part of the city – El Mercadillo.
The Puente Nuevo bridge translates as “new” and is indeed younger than its two other “brothers” – the Puente Viejo, built in 1616, and the Puente de San Miguel, also known as the “Roman Bridge”.
The new bridge, the city’s calling card, is supported by three piers. Two rest on the rocks and the central one is set at the bottom of the gorge. To see the bridge from below, you can go down 100 meters to the observation deck Mirador de Ronda. The bridge is only 66 meters long. And since the old and new town are on the same level, even a few tens of meters away, you can see neither the bridge nor the gorge from the streets.
The bridge has a sad history. Its predecessor collapsed and took the lives of 50 people. The current bridge during its construction from 1759 to 1793 took the lives of more than four dozen builders, led by architect Jose Martin de Aldeula.
The fact that the lower tier of the bridge used to be the city jail does not add much to the aura of this place. However, now there is an exhibition about the history of the structure.
Despite the fact that El Mercadillo is a classic Spanish town with wider streets, there are fewer sights in this part. But there is something for which here in Ronda, Hemingway himself hurried: Plaza de Toros (Calle Virgen de la Paz, 15) – the oldest bullfighting arena in the world. In fact, from here began the famous Spanish game with matadors and bulls. Ronda was the birthplace of the Romero dynasty – matadors, who developed the modern bullfighting. The most famous matador Pedro Romero killed 5600 bulls here. The bullring was built in 1785, is 66 m² in area, and has two floors of arcaded galleries for up to 5 thousand spectators.
There is also a bullfighting museum with posters, armour and other items related to the bullfighting act. Once a year in September, during the Pedro Romero Festival, the Plaza de Toros de Ronda hosts the Corrida Goyesca. The rest of the time the arena is open to the public for a small fee of €8 .
In front of the arena there is a monument to another symbol of Ronda, the bull.
Behind the arena is the Alameda del Tajo (Paseo Blas Infante, 1) – a balustrade park with an observation deck on the edge of the abyss, considered the best view in the city.
In this part of Ronda is also the main pedestrian street of the city, the Carrera Espinel.
Where to eat in Ronda
There are many street restaurants and tapas bars in Ronda. The restaurants position themselves as vernacular, with rustic cuisine. In addition to traditional Mediterranean dishes, they serve garlic gazpacho, lentil and asparagus stew, game, roast goat, sausages in wine, beef stew, rabbit, partridge, pork, lamb and more. The average bill per person including wine is €40.
But since Andalusia is the heart of Spanish wine-making, tourists rather go to tapas bars where they order olives, fried shrimp and kebab (about € 10 per plate) to accompany the local white and red (a glass from € 2.5) as an appetizer.
The main establishments are concentrated along Carrera Espinel and Calle Armiñán.
How to get to Ronda
Ronda is not a holiday destination. This town is rather a wonderful addition to a holiday on the Mediterranean Sea in the area of the resorts of Marbella (50 km.) And Malaga (100 km.). The main bus routes are directed here. A bus ticket from Ronda to Marbella costs € 7,85, to Malaga € 4. The best way to get from Madrid to Ronda is by train – €36.
However a night stay to spend the sunset and sunrise is well worth it.
Where to stay in Ronda
- Hotel “Parador de Ronda” in the city center will cost you € 97.
- The 3* Ronda Hotel Polo costs € 40.
- Apartments in the center of “Apartamentos Villa Serali” are € 49.
You can visit the city at any time of the year. And most importantly: if you have not been to Ronda, do not say you were in the real Spain or at least Andalusia!
Ronda, Spain – Sightseeing in a City Above the Abyss
Ronda (Spain) is a city spread in the southern part of the country in the province of Malaga. This settlement covers an area of 385 km², and its population does not exceed 34 thousand inhabitants. The city is inland. It is separated by 50 km from the nearest coastal point, San Pedro Alcantara. And 63 km south-east of Ronda is the famous resort of Marbella. To get from Malaga to the town will take at least 1.5-2 hours (a distance of 104 km).
The first mention of the city called Arunda is dated in the 6th century BC and is directly related to the Celtic tribes. During its centuries-long existence Ronda has been in the hands of the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs. But in the 15th century the rulers of Castile managed to win back the city from the Arabs, after which began its modern development.
Today Ronda is considered one of the most picturesque sites in Andalusia, which is undoubtedly due to its unusual geographical location. It spreads out on a rocky plateau at an altitude of more than 700 m above sea level. The rock is deeply cut by the El Tajo gorge, and at its foot there are hundreds of meters of emerald valleys. Hovering over the abyss, Ronda is also recognized as one of the largest white cities in the region thanks to its architecture.
Undoubtedly, such a unique object could not fail to attract the attention of the sophisticated traveler. By the end of the 20th century, Ronda managed to become a real tourist center, and visitors have discovered many fascinating attractions in its territory, more about which we tell below.
Attractions in Ronda
It’s always interesting to visit tourist cities that are not stingy with their attractions. And in this matter, Ronda can be a real discovery for lovers of versatile excursions. Curious, what attractions Ronda offers in Spain?
Almost no photo of Ronda is without its main attraction, the New Bridge overhanging the El Tajo Gorge. Although Puente Nuevo is the youngest of the city’s three bridges, it has earned the title of Ronda’s trademark. Built at the end of the 18th century, it is a stone structure made up of three arches. The bridge is 66 meters long and 98 meters high. Today the landmark connects the Old Town and the new Ronda. It is noteworthy that the new bridge was built on the site of the old one, which had not stood for five years and collapsed at the bottom of the gorge, taking with them at least fifty lives. Interesting is the fact that inside Puente Nuevo is a small room that used to serve as a prison for local bandits.
Of course, the bridge itself is architecturally fascinating, but its appeal would not be so great were it not for the spectacular views offered by the El Tajo Gorge. A powerful rock fault, which depth in some points reaches 120 m, divides the Spanish city of Ronda into two parts. And the bottom of the canyon itself is decorated by the waters of the Guadalevin River. Tourists who have been there advise to be sure to go down the gorge and contemplate the local beauty from the bottom up.
- It is free to visit at any time.
- Address: Calle Armiñán, s/n, 29400 Ronda, Spain.
Hovering above the abyss, Ronda is especially curious for its old quarter – a veritable maze of winding streets, alleyways, and dead ends that can lead an errant traveler unexpectedly to a rocky precipice with breathtaking panoramas. The old town occupies a small area where only some of the locals live, but it is always full of tourists. Strolling through the streets of the old part of Ronda, the traveler will come across snow-white houses with tiled roofs, temples and monuments, as well as the ancient fortress of the Muslim Gate.
One of the main attractions of the quarter is its museum of local history, located just behind the famous bridge. Also, while walking around the Old Town, many tourists visit local restaurants, most of which offer beautiful views of the El Tajo Gorge. In the area you can see several souvenir shops, where, according to travelers, the prices are very moderate.
The city of Ronda in Spain is also famous for its predilection for national traditions, and, in particular, for bullfighting. Here is one of the most famous in the country arena Plaza de Toros de Ronda, which has been visited by some public figures, including the American writer E. Hemingway (bas-relief of the author can be seen in the adjacent park). The bullfighting arena was erected in 1785: it is 66 m² in size and two floors of arcaded galleries can accommodate up to 5,000 spectators.
Although the Plaza de Toros is a small arena, it is very prestigious and revered by bullfighting fans in Spain. If you’re not ready to go to the bullfight itself, but would like to learn about this controversial show from the inside, the Plaza de Toros in Ronda gives you that opportunity. For an additional fee, tourists can learn about the history of bullfighting, take a walk around the arena, sit in the spectator seats, and see how bulls are prepared for the show and how horses are trained. Also within the walls of Plaza de Toros de Ronda is a miniature museum and two exhibitions showing matador costumes and posters from different times.
- Opening hours are January to February and November to December from 10:00 to 18:00, March and October from 10:00 to 19:00, April to September from 10:00 to 20:00.
- Cost to visit: 8 €, price of an audioguide: 1,5 €.
- Address: Calle Virgen de la Paz, 15, 29400 Ronda, Spain.
The Reservatauro Park, 5 km from the city, is another Ronda attraction. Reservatauro is a breeding farm where they breed fighting bulls and thoroughbred Andalusian horses. Its founder was the bullfighter Rafael Tejado. Not so long ago, UNESCO awarded the farm the status of a biosphere reserve. Today visitors have the opportunity not only to observe the animals grazing in the meadows, but also to look at them in the process of training.
- Working hours: daily from 10:00 to 18:00. However, the official website of the farm strongly recommends reserving your visits in advance.
- Address: Ctra. A-367 Ronda-Campillos Km 34, 29400 Ronda, Spain
- Cost of visit. The organizers offer three types of tours:
“Walk with bulls and horses”. Duration – 70 minutes, price for an adult – 28 €, for children – 12 €.
Excursion “Five Senses”, during which visitors get into an arena where bulls are trained and then taste local wines and tapas. The duration is 2 hours, the ticket price is 40€ for adults, 20€ for children.
“Exclusive tour”, during which a personal guide will tell you about the farm and introduce you to its inhabitants, after which you will go for a wine and tapas tasting. The duration is 2-3 hours, the cost for an adult is 90 €, for children 30 €.
In photos of Ronda in Spain, you can often see curious structures in Moorish architectural style. These are none other than the Arabian baths built on the territory of the city in the 13-15th centuries. Today the remnants of the water pump, three rooms with the baths themselves and a miniature garden have been preserved here. Before visiting the site itself, tourists are shown a five-minute film in English about the structure and function of the baths, after which it becomes much more interesting to study the site.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00.
- Cost of admission: 3,5 €, children under 14 years old are free.
- Address: Calle Molino de Alarcón, s/n, 29400 Ronda, Spain.
Ronda is a real city above the abyss and once again you can see it in the park Alameda Del Tajo. Here are several viewing platforms, from where you can see the full panorama of Ronda with its famous bridge and ravine, mountains and valleys. Once you’ve enjoyed the breathtaking images you can always continue your stroll through the park among the fountains, studying its monuments and sculptures. If you happen to visit Ronda in the spring, you’ll catch the fruit trees in bloom.
- You can visit the park and the observation decks at any time.
- Address: Calle Virgen de la Paz, Ronda, Spain.
One of the most visited attractions of Ronda in Andalusia (Spain), was the House of the Moorish King. The funny fact is that it has never served as a house for royalty, and bears this name solely because of the image of a Moorish prince adorning the facade. Now the house, as well as the surrounding once luxurious garden, are in disrepair.
But modern tourists are drawn here, above all, because of the mine, which leads down to a depth of 600 meters and reaches the bottom of the gorge. Everyone can take a trip down the secret passage, but it is worth bearing in mind that the descent and ascent back up require considerable physical effort.
- Opening hours: from October to April – from 10:00 to 20:00, from May to September – from 10:00 to 21:30.
- Cost of admission: 7 € for adults, 3,5 € for children up to 12 years old.
- Address: Calle Cuesta de Santo Domingo, 9, 29400 Ronda, Spain.
If you are a wine connoisseur you must visit the local winery García Hidalgo. It’s a small, family-run farm with very friendly owners who personally give tours in English of their modest property. During your visit, you can visit the vineyards and sample fine wines and tapas. The winery is surrounded by picturesque hills and everyone who wants to spend a little more than that, can stay overnight (from 70 € per day).
It is important to note that the winery does not set standard visiting hours and does not provide exact rates for tours, as they are optional. All information about booking tours, as well as their costs, can be obtained directly from the hosts by contacting them via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (622879005, they speak English).
- Address: A-6300, 38, 29400 Ronda, Spain.
Before telling you in detail how to get from Malaga to Ronda on your own, I would like to cover the issue of accommodation in the city: its variety and cost. It is pleasant to note that on the reservation services in the city offers more than 150 options for accommodation. And most of them are apartments and hotels 3 *.
The most budget institutions of this segment offer double rooms from 24-30 € per day. Apartments of the middle category, equipped with all necessary furniture and appliances will cost 50-60 € per night for two people. Rooms at three star hotels close to the center of Ronda and including breakfast can easily be rented for 70-80€ a night.
How to get there
If you liked the description of the city and its sights, you would probably like to know how to get to Ronda in Spain. It’s easy enough to do from anywhere in the country, but more often than not, tourists prefer to reach the city from Málaga. And as a means of transportation they usually use either a train or bus. Ronda is separated from Malaga by a little more than 100 km, a trip on a given route by car takes at least an hour and a half.
Rail transportation in Spain is provided by the company Renfe. There are daily trains from Malaga María Zambrano train station to Ronda. Flights are operated several times a day. Depending on the hour of departure you choose, fares range from 15 to 37 €. Travel time ranges from 2 to 3 hours. More accurate and detailed timetable you can always find on the website www.omio.com or on the official Renfe portal – www.renfe.com
The bus is the more common mode of transport from Málaga to Ronda and back. And for good reason: several companies are involved in transportation by bus on a given route, which provides passengers with a large number of trips. At the same time, bus travel prices are significantly lower than by train and range from 11 to 13 €. You can also find out more about bus timetables and prices at www.omio.com.
Now you have a good idea of how to get from Málaga to Ronda. All you have to do now is choose the transport that best suits your needs, find out the exact timetable and plan your trip.
The prices on this page are correct as of January 2020.
- If you are traveling in Spain by car and decide to turn into Ronda from the Marbella side, it is best to park your car in advance outside the Old Town, otherwise you risk wasting time trying to find a free parking space.
- As you approach the New Bridge along Arminan Street you can see several wine shops. Tourists who have been there strongly advise against buying wine in such establishments, as there is a high probability of coming across an adulteration.
- It is best to visit Ronda in Spain in the spring or early summer, when it is not too hot, but the parks and gardens are beginning to bloom.
- To fully enjoy the beauty of Ronda and see its main attractions, a day is enough.
- Don’t forget that if you plan to visit the García Hidalgo Winery or the Animal Farm, you must contact the owners and book your tour in advance.
These are probably the most sensible recommendations for visiting Ronda, Spain. Take all of the above information into consideration and start planning your trip to the amazing, soaring over the abyss town.
A walk through the old town of Ronda:
Author: Catherine Unal
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“This tiny settlement covers an area of 385 km²” – the note seems to be written by a Muscovite. How dare he say “tiny”! So this is the area of an average regional center, and there are regional centers which are twice as small. And no one ever called Kostroma, Kurgan, Tula or Kursk miniature…
Victor, the main thing is not to get nervous, it is not worth it. We took the word down just for your sake.