A DIZZYING BALCONY OVER THE INFINITY
The city of Ronda impresses only by the colossal power shown by its nature. In this city in the Malaga´s province, human beings are fully aware that they will always be surpassed by Mother Earth in its singular task of creating beauty, open spaces and shaping beautiful landscapes. Man can only humbly accept submission to nature and allow himself to be dazzled by its beauty. The city of Ronda lies on a huge rock located at an altitude of 725 meters above sea level.
But what is really amazing is that this rocky plain looks out to infinity, split into two parts, as if some giant hands had split it in two. The rough cut in the rock creates a dizzying canyon called the Tajo of Ronda. Furthermore, this high plateau proudly shows the world its cut and does so embedded in a mountain range.
In Ronda, there is a perfect place to surrender to nature´s power. Like a balcony, the Mirador of Ronda allows us to lean out over its railing to enjoy the famous stone gorge, the dizzying and vast views from an impressive height. Vineyards and olive groves spread over endless fields at our feet in the so-called "hoya" or hollow of Ronda. In the background of this vast landscape, the mountain range surrounding the horizon, appears haughty and silent. We find the Mirador of Ronda (Viewpoint of Ronda) within the garden’s building of Paseo de Blas Infante (Blas Infante Promenade), next to the bullring.
El Mirador de Ronda is just one of the many terraces that we will find in the Paseo de los Balcones (Balconies Promenade). This promenade, bordering the dizzying cornice, surrounds the city and builds a pedestrian path that begins at the “Parador de Turismo” and reaches a magnificent park called “Alameda del Tajo”. The path is adorned with elegant lime trees, pride of Ronda´s locals, as each tree has a sign with the name of the baby born in Ronda on the same day it was planted.
The magnificent park called the Alameda del Tajo (Tajo Boardwalk) has a rich botanical garden adorned with statues and fountains and flowing into different balconies over the hollow. The rich flora of the Alameda del Tajo has some centenary trees species, such as the Himalayan cedar. After visiting this part of Ronda, definitely Mother Nature surpasses man by long shot in creating wonders.
It is impossible to challenge the deep gorge that cuts the rock, that infinite hollow under our gaze, those serene mountain ranges in the distance and those centennial trees waiting for us in the crested city.
Mirador de RondaLos Molinos Road 1955 29400 – Ronda
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOUNTAINS, A GOOD CHEESE FROM RONDA!
Ronda´s special orography and its high altitude have a deep influence on the city, such as the gastronomy or the typical products. Ronda is the region´s capital, called Serrania of Ronda (Ronda´s Mountain Range). As the name suggests, it is set in lands crossed by mountains. This fact is key to deepen the knowledge of the city and influences many aspects such as its character, its climate, its history or its cuisine. When we arrive in Ronda, we can see many companies located on the city´s outskirts, such a wine cellars or olive oil factories.
It is not surprising considering the lands surrounding Ronda are full of vineyards and olive groves. Another example of a gastronomic product influenced by Ronda´s geographical location is hunting. The Serranía of Ronda includes several hunting reserves, an activity that has been the basis of the region’s diet since centuries ago. In Ronda´s cuisine, dishes based on rabbit or partridge meat are very popular. Being a land of bullfighting, the oxtail dish out stands. Following the connection between orography and local food, we set our glance on the mountains that make up the Serranía of Ronda.
The optimal environment to rise the animal farm that produce the raw material to elaborate the main product seen at this point. We are talking about the goat and its wonderful milk, with which the Serranía of Ronda´s delicious cheese is made. This product, also known as “Queso Rondeño” (Rondeño cheese), has a long tradition. The production process is completely handmade, an extraordinary quality is achieved thanks to the fact that the raw material is based exclusively on goat´s milk from the region.
The goats of the Serranía of Ronda have special properties due to the fact that they are raised in magnificent conditions over the mountains. By breeding in this optimal environment, goats are able to provide very high volumes of milk. The excellent raw material, rich in calcium, the handmade process elaboration without additives and the capacity to produce large quantities make the cheese production for regional´s companies a high national and international demand. All goat cheeses produced in the region are very tasty, whether fresh or aged.
To enhance their flavor and to give a unique touch, some are also made with aromatic herbs such as rosemary or thyme. In Ronda, nature not only provides with a spectacular environment, but the region has the perfect conditions to make the food supreme.
LET´S GO TO “LA BOLA”
In the core of the new neighborhood of Ronda, we meet the Carrera Espinel, a street that hosts a large number of stores. Along the street we can acquire any article in a very easy way, it is pedestrian and also very easy to find which begins in front of the iconic city´s bullring. You can´t miss it. Of course, in many stores we find the typical gastronomic products of the region, we mentioned in the previous point. Ronda´s cheeses, wines, oils, sausages and other delights can be purchased in specialty stores.
If there is one type of store that proliferates in this shopping area, it is leather good boutiques. Wallets, handbags, belts, jackets, shoes, key rings, etc., and in a large variety of shapes and colors. Everything with a common characteristic, manufactured with high quality leather and at a good price. The 700 meters long Carrera Espinel holds the “Open Mall of Ronda”. It is the city´s backbone through which a crowd of locals and tourists circulate every day. In Carrera Espinel, hidden in a pharmacy’s windows, there is a mosaic explaining the name´s story with which the townsfolk refer to this street.
In Ronda, everyone knows this pedestrian street as "Calle de la Bola" (Ball Street). The name Carrera Espinel is the official nomenclature used in guidebooks and street maps which we use in addresses and on signs. It was given in honor of an illustrious neighbor from Ronda named Vicente Espinel, priest, musician and writer, who greatly contributed to the Spanish Golden Age´s poetry. There are many popular theories trying to explain the nickname "Calle de la Bola", one of them is that during a big snowfall in Ronda, some children made a giant snowball letting rolling down the street, another mentions a stationery store that used to have a huge red ball as a lure to attract glances to its window. But the most accepted theory is depicted in the beautiful mosaic.
After building the New Bridge in the XVIII century, the Carrera Espinel became a regularly visited area by locals, to chat, to shop or even, as the mosaic tells, " to seek love". One of the activities carried out by the neighbors was "playing ball", a game that consisted of throwing a ball of about three kilos of weight and making it reach a designated spot with as few hits as possible. It is heartwarming to see how the past is still rooted in modern popular wisdom. Among so much commercial activity, a nod to the past still remains hidden in a form of mosaic.
Carrera Espinel. 29400-Ronda
Mosaic: “Calle de la Bola”Serrano Aznarte Drugstore
Carrera Espinel, 24 29400-Ronda
THAT BRAVE LITTLE BULL
When talking about Ronda, we are talking about bullfighting. In this city you can breathe bullfighting art in every corner, in every square, in every street and it is no wonder, since Ronda is the cradle of the bullfighting as we know it nowadays. Thanks to it, we will be able to bring all the bullfighting essence of Ronda gathered in a single picture. To know the origins of the relationship of bullfighting with Ronda, we go back to 1572, when the monarch Felipe II founded the “Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda” (Royal Cavalry School) to develop the art of riding horses.
This institution was dedicated to equestrian exercises and some of them included skills with bulls. Through the exercises of challenging the bulls, the horsemen performed their training and at the same time entertained people. To attend these trainings was quite a spectacle. In the 18th century, a new way of challenging to the bull emerged, from the ground and not on horseback. Thus, the bullfighters on foot were born, who replaced the equestrian horsemen in the games of skill with bulls. The Romero family played an essential role in this changeover, bringing together three generations of the best bullfighters of the time. Among them, Pedro Romero, a top figure, who with great style and charisma, fought more than 5000 bulls without suffering a single mishap.
Thanks to him, the profession achieved dignity and social respect. The rise of bullfighting led the “Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda” to build the bullring at the late 18th century. It was inaugurated in 1785 with a bullfight in which Pedro Romero fought. The bullring’s inner is unique and elegant. None of its seats are uncovered and all of them are located behind a double gallery of arcades, giving the arena a cloister-like appearance.
Its 66-meter diameter ring makes it the widest in the world. In addition, underneath the bullring hosts, within the Bullfighting Museum, several rooms display objects relevant to the history of the Royal Cavalry. The arena of Ronda is one of the oldest bullrings in the world, and due to its neoclassical style, one of the most beautiful. For its elegance and its history, it was declared of Cultural Interest since 1993. Taking a picture in this bullring is a luxury, but if you also want to pose with the actors, you only have to walk around the outside arena and you will come across it.
It is a magnificent bronze bull sculpture erected as a tribute to the fighting bull, by transmitting an imposing power. By posing with this wonderful artwork, you will take with you the Ronda´s bullfighting essence captured in a photograph, as well as a beautiful souvenir.
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de RondaVirgen de la Paz Street, 15 29400- Ronda.
Fighting Bull Monument
A VERY ROMANTIC JOURNEY
Very close to the New Bridge of Ronda is the Exhibitions and Conference Palace, and on one of its walls, there is a grate and a beautiful ceramic called "Tribute of Ronda to the Romantic Travelers". This monument enhances the beauty of Ronda and honors the travelers who knew how to appreciate and wrote wonders about the benefits of this beautiful city. During the 19th century, the so-called "Romantic Travelers" was a phenomenon formed by young people who explored the secrets of classical Europe in search of the origins of civilization.
They embarked on a long journey, known as the Grand Tour, tracing the dawn of Greco-Roman culture and visiting places such as Greece, Italy and Spain. When these young men arrived in southern Spain, they were dazzled by the romanticism around bullfighters and bandits, both so present in these lands. This feeling reached its fullness when they visited Ronda, the birthplace of bullfighting and bandit´s refuge in its mountains. But who were these mysterious fugitives who aroused so much curiosity among visitors...?
Late in the 18th century, some men began to live outside the law, hiding in the mountain ranges of Spain, particularly in Andalusia. The Sierra Morena mountains or the rugged massifs of the Serranía de Ronda were some of the places chosen by these outlaws where they could live hidden away from society and commit their misdeeds. These men were the feared bandits and were well known in Ronda. They were many and a very diverse group. Some were evil and bloodthirsty.
The perfidious bandits committed all kinds of outrages with no other purpose than robbery or for the pure pleasure of wickedness. Others were noble-hearted men who lived in society during their youth but, for some unjust reason, were forced to flee from justice and spend the rest of their lives hiding in the bush, where they survived as the best they could. The most honest bandits also committed misdeeds and robberies, but they did so for the mere purpose of survival or to impart their own justice, often fairer than that of society itself. But all the bandits had something in common.
They were tough men, forced to survive in the mountains under harsh conditions and perfectly familiar with the rugged mountain ranges and their caches. Some were feared and others appreciated, but all bandits aroused enormous curiosity and often even secret admiration. Stories and legends spread about them making the admiration grow, and the Romanticism at the time had a lot to do with it. These dreamy feelings captivated the Romantic Travelers and Ronda wants to pay tribute to these writers through this beautiful ceramic composed by a city map made of tiles and surrounded by the most beautiful phrases ever written about Andalusia, and indeed, about Ronda.
Ronda´s Tribute to the Romantic Travelers. Amiñan St. 17. 29400 Ronda
We have already seen that Ronda sits on a colossal rock sectioned in two halves by a large natural cut known as the Tajo of Ronda
The walls of this gorge have a height of about 100 meters and under these two rocky parts the Guadalevín river flows quietly. Descending to the course of this river from the city is not an easy task. In fact, there is a way, it is both fascinating and a real challenge. To achieve this, one must descend into the bowels of a mysterious rock full of history. If you accept our challenge, we are waiting for you at the House of the Moorish King... It´s time to descend into the abyss! In the ancient quarter of Ronda, there is a monumental complex known as the House of the Moorish King, which consists of three different areas.
On one side there is the house itself, next to it is a beautiful garden and finally, the monument which has a water mine. Yes, you read that right... a water mine! To understand this combination, we have to travel back in time to the Reconquest. In the 14th century, the whole area of Ronda was controlled by the Merinids, a powerful African dynasty whose army drew a border guarding the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada against Castilian attacks. The governor of this frontier was Abomelic, son of the Sultan of Fez.
Thanks to the great military aid given by the Merinids to the Kingdom of Granada, the Nasrids gave many lands of the Ronda region to the Merinids in exchange. And since Ronda was a crucial point within this defensive frontier, it had to be fortified and protected against possible Castilian sieges. For this reason, the Merinids built in Ronda a mine to obtain water from the Guadalevín River through a waterwheel operated by Christian slaves, who in turn were responsible for raising the heavy water wineskins from the river to the level of the city through a vertical access built in a large crack in the stone.
This 14th century hydraulic engineering work is a real jewel, built taking advantage of this natural crack. Thanks to some 200 steps carved into the rock, you descend to a distance of about 100 meters to reach the Guadalevín river itself at the bottom of the gorge, located in a beautiful landscape. The route carved into the rock, full of vaults, stalactites and stalagmites, is fascinating and even a bit overwhelming. The visit is worthwhile, even if you have to climb the steps afterwards. However, be very careful with the stairs, it is somewhat old, of irregular stone and it is next to a river, so it is usually wet.
The mine lands were not urbanized until the 18th century, when the neo-Mudejar style Casa del Rey Moro (House of the King Moor) was built. The house has a beautiful garden decorated with fountains, tiles and water lilies, leading to the water mine. Don´t miss this site visit!
Casa del Rey Moro. Cuesta Santo Domingo 9. 29400 Ronda
THE “GOYESCAS” OF RONDA
Let´s come back to the present as Ronda also enjoys a renowned modern day. This mountainous town welcomes many visitors throughout the year who are drawn not only by the great beauty of the gorge and its stores, but also by the bullfights. Bullfighting in Ronda is not only part of its heritage, but it is also very important nowadays. Ronda was the cradle of bullfighting between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries thanks to the Romero family. Two centuries later, another family of bullfighters contributed greatly to the art.
The new way of understanding bullfighting of this second dynasty drew the interest of important personalities such as Ernest Hemingway or Orson Wells, who brought bullfighting to the international scene in the 20th century. This family of bullfighters from Ronda were the Ordóñez family. In 1954, the II Centenary of the birth of the bullfighter Pedro Romero were commemorated and therefor, a great bullfighting event was held in Ronda. The bullfighter Cayetano Ordóñez had a great influence in making this bullfight in honor of Pedro Romero something special, for this, the bullfighters would be dressed according to the bullfighter´s era, meaning a bullfight in Goya´s dress style: “Goyesca”.
Matadors, horsemen and banderilleros had to be dressed according to the Spanish bourgeoisie fashion from the late 18th century to the 19th century, as portrayed by the painter Francisco de Goyaand the bullfighter Pedro Romero, hence the name of this fashion (Goyesca). This is how the first Goyesca bullfight came up. The second Goyesca bullfight was held in 1957 and it was performed by Antonio Ordóñez, son of the patriarch Cayetano. From that year on, Ronda hosted the annual Goyesca bullfights, with Antonio Ordóñez being a key figure, not only as a bullfighter but also as a promoter.
Nowadays, the Goyesca is held every year, at the end of August, and is a major bullfighting event in Ronda. Key figures of bullfighting, such as Palomo Linares, Paquirri, El Cordobés, Espartaco, Manzanares, Joselito or Morante de la Puebla, among others, have been part of the Goyescas bullfights. Today, another member of this bullfighting dynasty, Francisco Rivera Ordóñez, is the promoter of this bullfighting event. But the Goyesca is also a very important social event. For a few days different celebrations are held in Ronda, in which "Damas Goyescas" (Goyesca Ladies) walk around the city dressed in costumes of the painter´s time.
Many celebrities attend the Goyesca as Ronda becomes a red carpet. The celebrities’ parade on the city streets pleases the public. The Goyesca celebration is front cover on the yellow press for a time.
FROM THE OLD BRIDGE TO THE NEW BRIDGE
Ronda has two areas clearly separated by the Guadalevín river and linked by its emblematic bridges, they are the modern area and the old area. We suggest to visit the second one, also known as "the City", and stroll the distance between the Old Bridge and the New Bridge, a walk of about 20 minutes. As soon as we cross to the old part of Ronda from the Old Bridge, we find some stairs leading directly to the Arab Baths of Ronda, the most important archaeological site of the city and the best preserved in the whole country.
Its construction dates back to the 13th century and following the patterns of Roman baths, its structure is divided into three areas: rooms for cold baths, for warm baths and for hot baths. There is also a reception and a boiler area. Recent archaeological studies have brought to light part of the latrines. The wonder of these Arab Baths is their hydraulic system, which has been perfectly preserved since it was built. Both the aqueduct and the boiler area have been fully preserved to the present. Inside you can visit the impressive central hall, formed by several bodies separated by horseshoe arches supporting barrel-vaults and domes adorned with star-shaped skylights.
Taking a hot bath while star-shaped rays of sunlight stream in from the sky must have been quite an experience. The visit includes an audiovisual introduction on how the baths were used in the Arab period. We return to the Old Bridge and after crossing the Arch of Philip V and the Cuesta de Santo Domingo we arrive at Armiñán St., where we continue to the right until we reach the great jewel of Ronda... the spectacular New Bridge!
The New Bridge of Ronda was built in the second half of the 18th century and is so called because there was the first bridge in the same place at the beginning of the same century. This first bridge did not withstand its own structure and collapsed six years after being built, causing the fall of some fifty people and thousands of tons of stone to the bottom of the gorge. The first bridge was intended to bridge such a distance with a single-arch construction, a landmark, but it did not end well.
Years later it was decided to rebuild it but under a safer pattern, with several arches supported on extremely robust and endless high pillars.Thus, was born the New Bridge that we enjoy today! Crossing it is an unforgettable experience! You can do it once, twice, a hundred times. Each time you will discover a different perspective of the endless views of the valley of Ronda. We also invite you to visit the interior of this magnificent construction, as there is an informative museum, the New Bridge Interpretation Center, which recounts the history of such a work. Amazing!
Real St. 229400-Ronda
Molino de Alarcón St.29400-Ronda
New Bridge Interpretation Center
Plaza España 29400-Ronda
When you walk along Carrera Espinel St, you will come across the square that leaves you breathless due to its great beauty. Such is its charm that it makes you feel a strong attraction and an irrepressible desire to walk every step of it. We suggest you to sit on one of the benches to enjoy the beauty and feel the quietness of the elegant Plaza del Socorro. Let´s get to know in detail! After the attacks suffered in Ronda in the early 19th century during the War of Independence, the Plaza del Socorro needed almost total remodeling. From then on, the construction of the buildings and elements that nowadays form it began.
Most of the buildings that make up the square follow a single chromatic line based on ochre and white colors, creating a very harmonious whole. Among them, stands out the beautiful Parish church of Nuestra Señora del Socorro, built in the 20th century, the entrance is flanked by two symmetrical and equal towers. Also symmetrical in shape is the white, brown building presiding over the background of the square, the Casino of Ronda, known as the “Círculo de Artistas (Circle of Artists).
The interior witnessed a very important event for the region, as it hosted the historic Assembly of Ronda in 1918, in which the flag, the coat of arms and the anthem of Andalusia were approved. That is why the main Andalusian symbols are present in this square. A large three-dimensional replica of the coat of arms of Andalusia stands haughtily in front of the Casino of Ronda and next to it, the green and white flag of the autonomous community of Andalusia flies proudly.
The coat of arms is formed by a spectacular figure of a young Hercules taming two lions between the two columns of Hercules that, according to tradition, are located in the Strait of Gibraltar. At the foot of the figure, the motto: "Andalusia for itself, for Spain and Humanity". The fact that the main symbols of Andalusia are present in Ronda is a source of pride for its neighbors. The atmosphere created by the harmony and symmetry of the square creates a feeling of calm, enhanced by the checkerboard pattern decorating part of the floor. As part of this balance, the harmonious white fountain is located in the middle of the square.
You will enjoy swimmingly this peaceful atmosphere if you take a break sitting on one of the stone benches in the Plaza del Socorro. Even more so if you savor a refreshing ice cream in one of Ronda´s many pastry shops.
Plaza del Socorro. 29400, Ronda
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