Ronda, Andalucia, Spain
Ronda is apparently Andalucía's fastest-growing town after Sevilla and Granada and is bigger than Cordoba. Ronda is still a very Spanish town with all the driving difficulties that presents and I would suggest leaving the car on the outer edges of the town and walking in as the roads are VERY narrow and rather too dramatic for easy driving. Initially we made the mistake of driving through the town. There is a one way system and going in was fine but trying to retrace our steps found us stuck on what appeared to be a footpath, we chickened out and managed to reverse back and drive right out of the town and back in to park where we should have parked in the first place, out of the main old town and walked into the old part of town along steep cobbled streets.
Ronda attracts tourists most specifically to experience its famous dramatic escarpments and views provided by the deep El Tao Gorge with the Rio Guadalevín running through its centre. The 18th century (rather misnamed now) Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, crosses the 100m chasm below and the views into the gorge and not to be enjoyed by those with, a fear for heights and the drop is very dramatic. This amazing bridge was finished in 1793 and is the tallest of the three bridges of Ronda at a towering 120 metres above the canyon floor.
Unfortunately it was raining on the day that we visited Ronda so although we enjoyed looking down through the hazy clouds to the gorge below we were not really able to enjoy the views out beyond to the Serranía de Ronda Mountains.
Ronda is also famous as the birthplace of modern bullfighting but today the bullring or Plaza de Toros, is now a museum, and visitors can pay to go in and learn about the Spanish ‘sport’ and walk out into the arena. This building is the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain that is still used once a year I understand for a celebration festival. It was built in 1784 in a Neoclassical style by the same architect that designed the Puente Nuevo. It is a very impressive building and quite beautiful if you can get beyond its raison d’etre and its history.
Outside the front of the Plaza de Toros are a couple of bullfighting statues but I am not sure whether were specifically of Ronda’s most famous bull fighter Pedro Romero. He came from a bullfighting family and this family is responsible for the style of fighting known as the "Ronda school" to distinguish them from the "Seville school" which had been the dominant style before Romero exploded onto the scene. Surprisingly considering his profession this man lived to the amazing age of 10 and he died in Ronda in 1839.
This famous building has also featured in a music video by Madonna (Take A Bow). The song had nothing to do with bullfighting but the video did feature a bullfighter, Emilio Muñoz and some aerial views of the historic bullring of Ronda.
Apparently the author, Ernest Hemingway loved bullfighting, and he particularly loved Ronda - so much so that he used it as a setting for his novel ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. Hemmingway describes the murder of Nationalist sympathizers early in the Spanish Civil War where the sympathisers are thrown from cliffs in an Andalusian village. It is said that Hemingway based this experience on killings that took place in Ronda at the cliffs of El Tajo
Orson Wells was equally enchanted by Ronda and spent many summers in the town. His ashes are spread in the Plaza del Toros in Ronda. To celebrate the interest paid to Ronda by these two celebrities two rather special walkways are named after them .The Paseos de Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles The Paseo Orson Welles goes behind the Parador hotel and leads from the bullring to the Puente Nuevo. The Paseo Ernest Hemingway heads behind the bullring towards the Alameda itself. It was rather strange to go to a Spanish town and find two walkways named after famous people that I had no idea had any connection to Ronda.
Ronda is an amazing town perched high in the mountains and split is two by the El Tajo gorge with the Rio Guadalevín running through the gorge. The bridges are quite special, particularly the Puente Nuevo which offers extremely dramatic views. There are a couple of places where you can view the bridge and the buildings and small gardens that creep down into the gorge. This was all the more eerie for us as the misty drizzly rain and cloud kept flowing in and and round the gorge.
This is a lovely Spanish town that appears much smaller than it is because the streets are tiny and the town is spread lengthwise. A lot of the newer buildings are out of the main older town area. The actual older historical town is not big and you can easily walk around providing that you can cope with walking up and down steep hills and cobbled streets. It is possible to go for more dramatic walks down into the gorge but as it was very wet so we didn’t fancy slithering down the paths.
I would definitely recommend a visit to this very attractive historical town. It is an easy drive from the Costa del Sol and many coach trips run from the Costa to Ronda. The drive from the coast inland is also quite an experience and there is some lovely scenery to enjoy. As we drove over we saw snow on the mountains against a bright blue sky but this changed to cloudy drizzly rain but with a biting wind for our walk around Ronda which was a shame.
Thank you for reading. I trust this has been of some interest. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.