Located in the Spanish province of Málaga, around 60 kilometers north of Marbella, the town of Ronda occupies a dramatic location, atop immense, craggy stone cliffs. As if sitting on a throne above the rest of the world, the town is full of old historic sights dating back to the time of the Moors. Here are some of our top things to do and see in Ronda.
Walk Across the Famous Puente Nuevo Bridge
The Puente Nuevo Bridge is without a doubt one of the most famous sights in Ronda. Spanning the El Tajo Gorge, it’s quite a sight to behold, towering the height of the cliff faces. Taking a total of 42 years to create, construction on the bridge began in 1751 and a total of 50 workers were killed during the process. The bridge was designed by architect José Martin de Aldehuela and building work was carried out by chief builder Juan Antonio Díaz Machuca.
Not only is Ronda’s Plaza del Toros the largest in Spain (in terms of the diameter of the sand circle), it’s also one of the oldest, built in the 18th century. One of the birthplaces of the Rondeño style of bullfighting, the building is also where the Real Maestranza De Caballería De Ronda is located – Spain’s oldest order of horsemanship.
The most important church in Ronda, the Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor is built in many varying architectural styles, due to the fact that construction began in 1485 and wasn’t completed until the 17th century. Part of the church was also destroyed during an earthquake in 1580. The most fascinating aspects of the church are its Renaissance Choir and images of the Virgen del Mayor Dolor.
During the Moorish rule of Spain, the Arabic leaders built many bathhouses all over the country, but especially in the province of Andalusia. Many of these ancient Arab bathhouses still remain today and, although not functioning, can still be explored. One of the most important and best preserved is located in Ronda. Built at the end of the 13th century, you can still see the large cauldron used for heating the water to create the steam, and the star-shaped air vents.
Not actually the home of a Moorish king at all, the Palacio del Rey Moro wasn’t built until the 18th century, after the Christians had long regained control of Andalusia. Although the actual house is not open to the public, its wonderful gardens are. Designed by French landscape gardener Jean-Claude Forestier in 1912, they cling to the side of the cliff and are filled with fountains, flower gardens and peacocks. Its real treasure, however, can be found down many stone steps in a mine, which emerges at a cool and serene pool at the bottom of the gorge.
The remnants of the Arabic residence of the Moorish ruler Abbel Mallek, the Mondragón Palace has undergone many renovations to help restore it to its former glory. Some of the original, intricate tile work and inner courtyards still remain, as do the charming water gardens with their many fountains.
The Bodegas la Sangre Wine Interpretation Centre provides great insight into Ronda’s local wines. As well as tastings straight from the barrel, there’s a museum which explains the history of wine, the grape-growing process, the fermentation process and the various types of local wines and how they’re made.