Thursday, May 26, 2016
Her Name Was Ronda...Spain!
There are few places more dramatic than Andalucia. Southern Spain's rocky, mountainous, ancient region is covered with great cities to visit between the wine regions of the north and the Costa Del Sol on the Mediterranean. From Seville to Cordoba and all the way to the English outpost of Gibraltar; the scenery is amazing. One of the most amazing spots along this path is Ronda. Ronda is the city on the cliff overlooking the Guadalevin River as it cuts it's way, lower and lower through the gorge that runs through the center of this dramatic cliff town.
This amazing town was originally settled by the Celts. Later it was ruled by Rome, then taken over by the Moors. Eventually the Christians took the place over and nowadays when you visit; you can see things from all of these eras. The Roman Bridge is the old bridge and has commanding views of the gorge as you enter and exit the city. There are also walled areas of town that were built by the Moors.
The Moorish King left something behind that is definitely an Adventure for Anyone. There is a passageway from the palace at the top of the cliff to the river in the gorge below. It contains 365 steps, so it is a walk. This is the water mine. The palace needed fresh water, and that was how they did it several hundred years ago. These days you can't go in the palace, but you can hike the steps to the river. It gives you astounding views of the city above.
Ronda is filled with plazas, casinos, churches, palaces and amazing views of the gorge. One of the most famous views of the city is of and from the New Bridge. This baby spans the gorge at over 100 meters up. I doubt that you will ever see a view quite like either the view of it or from it. If you hit town at the right time, there may be people bungee jumping from the bridge. For you waterfall lovers, there is one under this bridge and it is gorgeous.
Plaza de Toros is another must see. Most of the year this bullring is a museum. We all know how popular bullfighting is in Spain and in Ronda they hold the title of being home to modern bullfighting. The Pamplona crowd did it the old fashioned way. Traditional dress and lots of pageantry surround the bullfighting in this city. ‘Feria Goyesca de Pedro Romero’ is the only fair in the world held in honor of a bullfighter. It takes place in September, and is the biggest event in Ronda. Ronda is equally as well known for it's bullfighting as other centers in Spain and was famous enough that they once drew celebrities like Ernest Hemmingway and Orson Wells.
Everything in Ronda is a little more dramatic than most places. The views from most of the edges of town are something that you will never forget. It is the best part of this Adventure for Anyone. There are fortresses on these cliffs that have amazing views and should not be missed. There are so many places to get a good view, and the Parador Hotel, perched next to the new bridge is probably the best place to stay. There are any number of great hotels in the area, but none of the others have quite this good a view.
Southern Spain was home to the Moors for hundreds of years. Their architecture is just part of the must sees in this town. Everything from palaces to water mines to public baths are testament to the time that they spent on this clifftop.
Museo Lara is one of the unusual spots in Ronda. This museum houses some very odd exhibits. In addition to the typewriters, and microscopes; they have an exhibit about witchcraft and the Inquisition. It's macabre, there's not doubt about it.
There's a lot to see and do in Ronda. It's one of the fastest growing towns in Andalucia, because of the tourism there. It's got more history than I could ever talk about. The architecture is one of a kind. The views of the gorge and the mountains are amazing on a bad day. It has unique festivals, great hotels, and a watermine. There are tons of day trips that will bus you out there for a walking tour, but I say you should stay overnight. This is one of those towns that you do a city tour and walk away. A while down the road you will be curious to see if maybe you missed something and you will read about the town that you've already visited. When you see all the things that you probably missed on your day tour and you are already at home across the pond; you will feel slighted. Take the time to spend more than a day in Ronda. There's so much there to experience that you don't want to miss it. Have some Tapas, try some Flamenco, shop in the plazas, walk the walls and the narrow streets, and join in a pilgrimage. So take the time, stay the night and enjoy!