We arrived to Ronda at siesta time. It is not a stereotype, it seemed to be true judging by how empty the streets of the historic centre of the city were, in full sun, around four in the afternoon. We did not think of spending a lot of time in the city and of course that was an error that I partially try to purge through this article. I owe it to the city, anyone should have. We found quickly a place to park, near the Arab baths. We came from Setenil de las Bodegas and the fact that there was plenty of space on the street to park in the middle of such a perfect scene made me suspicious. I double-checked if there was a parking meter machine somewhere hidden but found nothing.
Immediately we caught up with someone, who wanted to explain to us where the confines of Arab and Christian neighbourhoods began and ended. We do not recommend never getting hooked by anyone who has not been requested or sought by oneself. We kept on wandering aimlessly. In fact, if someone wants accurate information about the city’s rich history, it can be found in any travel book guide. This article is not about that. Here I intend to convey the impressions that someone who comes to Ronda can find, and how they can spend a nice time in a visit of a few hours in such a beautiful place. Without previous information, letting things go.
So I need to confess something. I didn´t know anything about Ronda, I have never heard of this place in my life before, nothing, zero…, so when Dani mentioned it as a next destination on our trip, I was like, alright, for sure he knows better. And I was still so much under the influence of all the previous places that we had visited till then, that I was not even able to concentrate on something new yet. Then he showed me couple of pictures about Ronda, still on the way there, and I was like WOW, how it was even possible that till now this city was unknown for me.
Ronda is a Spanish melting pot. A constant riddle between times and cultures. The cobblestones of the streets guided us to the centre. Everything seemed very neat as well as surprisingly authentic, like if someone had filmed the last bandit movie there and left the set on. And that’s the image of Ronda, a Spanish city with an aftertaste of the 19th century that, being one of the oldest cities in the country, has always been going through successfully along the paths of all-time.
It is full of Mudejar art accompanied with white and yellow Andalusian-style houses. Walking a little, it seems that sooner or later all roads will lead, despite being somehow apart from the most modern centre, to Puente Nuevo, over Tajo de Ronda on the Guadalevín River. Plaza María Auxiliadora is a very good place to observe this natural gem. And that’s Ronda, heritage everywhere, natural and urban: Ermita de la Virgen de la Cabeza, Puente árabe, Puente Viejo, Arco de Felipe V, Palacio del Marqués de Salvatierra, Palacio del Rey Moro where you can find los Jardines Colgantes de Forestier (Forestier Pendant Garden) and la Mina Secreta (The Secret Mine).
Puente Nuevo, oh man! So, once I saw a coupIe of pictures about this bridge, I was like, and for sure you would be agreeing on that, alright, it looks awesome. But in real life, it´s breath-taking. It´s surprisingly and incredibly big, and the views from whichever angle one looks at it are unbelievable.
Funny enough, Ronda the word itself in Hungarian means “ugly”. How could it be? ☺️
There begins that more modern centre, where Paseo Blas Infante seems to act as a meeting catalyst for tourists who then fill the terraces and stroll over the bridge admiring La Serranía. Nearby, Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Ronda is located. Anna had never seen a bullring from inside before, it was the first time for her. The visit costs seven euros and allows access to the arena, horse training stables and the museum.
Well, what to say, I was hesitating a bit to enter or not, but at that very moment my curiosity was bigger than my ethic values. Regardless of me, personally being fully against the bullfighting events, I completely understand that this tradition is part of the Spanish culture, and without seeing at least the arena from inside, I couldn´t have left. After we entered, I became speechless… one thing is that the arena is indeed breath-taking, you can feel a very special atmosphere inside, the corridors you walk through, observing the scenery, understanding the methods, seeing the cages of the bulls, the path onto to the golden sand podium, watching the old posters of the bullfighting festivals, the rich, elegant and colourful outfits of the bullfighters… and besides that it´s organized super professionally. Still, after the visit, filled with a lot of information and bombed by many pictures and stories of the events, when we have finally decided to sit down a bit on the seats of the audience, and the sun was hitting crazily the golden sand, I couldn´t stop my brain to think about all the past happenings there. All in all, I don´t regret the experience, and since then I even convinced myself to visit other arenas as well, but for sure I would never be able to attend, neither watch any live bullfighting performance in my life.
We decided to stop along the way and go in somewhere for a drink. From the bridge we had seen terraces on the river that added up to the magnificent viewpoints that the city has on it. We chose the one that seemed most strategic to us. We found Pilastra del Torero Restaurant. The views are really privileged from its terrace. The afternoon was beginning to fall and the sunset was going to leave us a precious memory of this city that undoubtedly deserves more time and attention. However, if you do not have it, do not hesitate to enter and you get lost unconsciously.