Must-Visit Attractions in Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain
Ronda, Spain | © Ronnie Macdonald / Flickr
Mark Nayler

Ronda is famous for its mighty ‘New Bridge’ spanning the deep gorge below, yet this stunningly appointed Andalusian town has much more to offer than its most iconic structure. Read on for our pick of the 20 must-visit attractions in Ronda.

1. Puente Nuevo


Puente Nuevo, Ronda
© Klomiz / Flickr

The Puente Nuevo (‘New Bridge’) was completed in 1794 and is one of the reasons why this town is the third most-visited destination in Andalusia. Spanning the frightening 120-metre (394-foot) deep gorge that splits Ronda in two, it took 40 years and the lives of 50 workers to build. The small chamber at its centre contains a museum about its construction and history.

2. Puente Viejo


Puente Viejo, Ronda
© Elliott Brown / Flickr

Puente Viejo (‘Old Bridge’) is the more notable of the two crossings that the gigantic Puente Nuevo was built to improve upon. Comprising a single stone archway, this early 17th-century structure is reached by strolling down through the beautiful Jardines de Cuenca, and from its centre, there are some spectacular views of the countryside beyond Ronda.

3. El Tajo canyon

Natural Feature

The bottom of the El Tajo gorge in Ronda
© Elliott Brown / Flickr

At 120 metres (394 feet) deep, the canyon that quite spectacularly splits Ronda in half is an acrophobe’s worst nightmare. There are two ways to enjoy this breathtaking natural phenomenon: either admire it from the centre of Puente Nuevo, or trek down to the bottom and goggle at the town high above you (the path starts from Plaza Maria Auxiliodora). The best approach, though, is to do both.

4. Jardines de Cuenca


Jardines de Cuenca, Ronda
© Harvey Barrison / WikiCommons

Named after Ronda’s twin Spanish city, these stunning gardens are staggered down the eastern side of Puente Nuevo, leading to that famous crossing’s older and smaller brother. Best visited either during the morning, before it gets too hot, or at sunset, they offer jaw-dropping views of El Tajo canyon, Puente Nuevo and the fertile landscape south of Ronda.

5. Alameda del Tajo


Rondas beautiful Alameda del Tajo park
© Britanglishman / WikiCommons

Andalusia’s most stunning park is located just behind Ronda’s historic bullring. Particularly beautiful during spring and autumn, the Alameda del Tajo features several viewing platforms that hang over the cliff edge; hilariously, Spaniards call these coño balconies, coño being a versatile Spanish swearword that you may well want to use upon looking down.

6. Bullring


Rondas 18th-century bullring
© PatternPictures / Pixabay
Ronda’s elegant stone bullring was opened in 1784, when it was the setting for Spain’s first ever corrida de toros (bullfight). Partly for this reason, and partly because it has served as the ‘home ground’ for bullfighting’s two greatest dynasties, it is considered the birthplace of this divisive spectacle. Visits cost €7 ($8.60) and will take you into the structure’s most secret and fascinating corners.

7. Bullfighting Museum


Exhibits at Rondas bullfighting museum
© Tajchman / WikiCommons
Ronda’s bullring is home to one of the best bullfighting museums in southern Spain. Visitors here can get to grips with the history and customs of this little-understood spectacle, as well as marvel at the elaborate costumes worn by bullfighters. Also explored is the role that Ronda’s Romero and Ordoñez families have played in developing the Spanish bullfight.

8. Bandit Museum


Rondas Bandit Museum
© SweetnessParadise / WikiCommons
The only museum of its kind in Spain, Ronda’s quirky and fascinating Museo del Bandolero is a must-visit. It explores the rich legacy of banditry attached to the town and surrounding countryside; indeed, armed highwaymen were such a problem in the Serrania de Ronda throughout the 19th century that the Guardia Civil was founded in 1844 to try and eradicate them. Entry costs €3.75 ($4.60).

9. Arabic baths


Rondas beautiful Arabic Baths
© Ángel M. Felicísimo / WikiCommons
Located just beyond the old city walls are some of the best-preserved Baños Arabes in Spain. Ronda’s Arabic Baths were built during the 10th and 11th centuries, during the high point of the town’s Moorish period, and consisted of three rooms maintaining cold, warm and hot temperatures. Star-shaped vents in the ceiling formed a miniature cosmos through which light and air passed.

10. House of the Moorish King


Casa del Rey Moro, Ronda
© Julia Kostecka / WikiCommons

The gracefully ageing Casa del Rey Moro clings to the western cliffs of El Tajo and is a spectacular sight from the other side of the gorge. It dates from the 18th century and, although the building itself is closed, the tiered gardens are well worth a visit. From these, the 200+ steps of Ronda’s medieval Water Mine take you down to a Moorish fortress and the bottom of the canyon.

11. Grazalema Natural Park


Ronda as seen from the Grazalema Natural Park
© Por los caminos de Málaga / WikiCommons
Less than half an hour’s drive west of Ronda is the beautiful and wild Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Definitely worth a visit if the length of your visit permits, this rugged protected area is home to some epic natural features such as incredibly deep canyons – scars in the landscape four times the height of the gorge that splits Ronda in two. Best explored by bike or on foot.

12. Las Nieves Natural Park


The Las Nieves Natural Park near Ronda
© Por los caminos de Málaga / WikiCommons
About a 45-minute drive east of Ronda is the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. At its centre is the 1,909-metre (6,263-foot) Mount Torrecilla, while other notable natural features include one of of the deepest potholes in Europe, at 1,098 metres (3,602 feet). The park’s largely uninhabited expanses are also home to birds of prey, mountain goats and continental Europe’s largest spider.

13. Bar El Lechuguita

Bar, Spanish

Head to Bar El Lechuguita for cheap and traditional tapas
© jenny downing / Flickr

For fast and cheap tapas surrounded by locals, El Lechuguita is your place. Nestling on a sidestreet just off Plaza España, this hugely popular joint flings out bite-sized treats for as little as 80 cents, while the more ‘expensive’ tapas will set you back two or three euros. It’s traditional fare – think grilled meats and tortilla – and it’s very small, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

14. Mondragón Palace

Building, Museum

An internal patio in the Palacio de Mondragón
© Elliott Brown / Flickr
Ronda’s elegant Palacio de Mondragón dates from the early 14th century and was once a residence for the town’s wealthy Moorish rulers. At the close of the 15th century, the building was extensively remodelled by a distinguished family from Seville, who were given the palace for their efforts during the Catholic reconquest of Spain. Nowadays, it houses the Municipal Museum, where you can learn about the history of Ronda.

15. Meson El Sacristán

Restaurant, Spanish

Head to Meson El Sacristán for world-class jamón
© MuddyBill / Flickr

Don’t leave Ronda without treating yourself to a meal at Meson El Sacristán, one of the town’s stand-out restaurants. Its USP is a gorgeous old wood oven, in which a variety of mouthwatering, locally sourced meat dishes are cooked. Star platos here are the roasted suckling pig, the baby goat chops and the stewed bull’s tail, a Rodeño classic. The restaurant is also famous for its world-class cured jamons and its homemade desserts.

16. Restaurante Casa Maria

Restaurant, Spanish

Casa Maria wows with homemade desserts such as lemon cheesecake
© Suzy Hazlewood / Flickr

Casa Maria likes to surprise its clients. You don’t order off a menu here: you simply take your table, order the drinks and let the kitchen staff serve you several courses made from whatever was freshest at the market that morning. This ingredient-driven approach to cooking has made Maria’s House extremely popular, so be sure to book in advance. Order the fabulous lemon cheesecake for dessert.

17. The Lara Museum


Sitting comfortably? A chair used during the Spanish Inquisition on display at the Mueso Lara
© Klaus Graf / WikiCommons
The wonderful Museo Lara takes its name from local collector and founder Juan Lara Jurado. Jurado bought the historic building in 1993 and six years later opened its doors to what has been called the best private collection in Spain; it spans human endeavour over the centuries, from science to weaponry, including artefacts such as pistols, cameras and instruments of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition.

18. September Festival

Memorial, Architectural Landmark

Come early September, Ronda throws itself into its annual Pedro Romero festival. Named after the legendary 18th-century Ronda-born bullfighter who is credited with inventing modern bullfighting, the fair takes over streets and squares in the Mercadillo area, converting them into a giant open-air party. Food and drink stands appear on every corner and ceilings of balloons and paper lanterns provide shade for revellers. The feria culminates with a bullfight in the town’s 18th-century bullring.

19. El Mercadillo

Natural Feature

Plaza España, Ronda
© Concepcion AMAT ORTA / WikiCommons

The “newer” part of Ronda is located on the northern side of El Tajo and is referred to as El Mercadillo (‘the little market’). Abounding in charming whitewashed townhouses, pretty squares and romantic cobbled streets, this part of town richly rewards aimless meandering. Start from Plaza España, perhaps after refreshments at Hotel Don Miguel, and take any street off this central square: within minutes, you’ll be in the heart of the barrio.

20. La Ciudad

Natural Feature

The rooftops of La Ciudad, Rondas oldest quarter
© Karan Jain / Flickr

The oldest part of Ronda sits on the northern side of the gorge and is simply called La Ciudad (‘the town’). Its tightly packed sugar cube houses and narrow lanes mostly date from the city’s time under Moorish dominion, which lasted from the 8th to the late 15th centuries. La Ciudad is home to many notable buildings, including the Mondragón Palace and House of the Moorish King, and the most hauntingly beautiful spots in the city. You can also walk to the bottom of El Tajo via a path that starts at Plaza Maria Auxiliodora.

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