Ronda – The Dream City
28 September, 2015
The name Ronda inevitably conjures up pictures of its lofty Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) and spectacular bullring. Situated in the north-west of Málaga province, in the beautiful natural setting of the Serranía de Ronda range, it is the ideal spot for a weekend getaway.
In the course of its history, Ronda has been conquered by Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Berbers, as evinced in the city’s rich heritage. It was also occupied by the French in 1810, prompting the emergence of a bandit resistance movement known as bandolerismo.
Ronda, A Monumental City
The obvious starting point is the Puente Nuevo, one of the city’s icons.Built in the 18th century, it connects the historic town to the city’s modern districts, spanning a 100-metre-deep ravine through which the river Guagalevín flows. It is well worth crossing the bridge to see the stunning views. Another vantage point is provided by the balconies in the Jardines de Cuenca, revealing a view of the bridge in all its splendour. But, there’s more. Pre-dating the Puente Nuevo is the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), also known as the Puente de las Curtidurías, in addition to the Puente Viejo, finished in 1616.
Another sightseeing area is the inner city with its narrow streets, particularly the Calle Manuel Montero with its characteristic white houses adorned with flowering geraniums. The area also boasts a large number of mansions and palaces, notably the Mondragón Palace. Moorish in origin, the building features harmoniously blended Mudéjar and Renaissance styles. It currently houses the Ronda Museum. Other outstanding buildings are the Palace of the Marqués de Salvatierra, the Casa del Gigante (House of the Giant), a jewel of Nasrid architecture, the Renaissance-style House of St John Bosco and the Palacio del Rey Moro (Palace of the?Moorish King). The latter houses a fountainhead opened up by the Moors which provides access down to the river.
When it comes to religious architecture, a must-see monument is the Church of Santa María la Mayor, built over the High Mosque of Medina. A prominent feature of its interior is the choir, carved in fine walnut and oak woods.
There are numerous vestiges of the old Moorish settlement, as we saw for ourselves. You can still visit the Muslim Medina, of which part of the wall has been preserved, although the most striking feature is the Almocábar Gate, dating from the 13th century. However, the most important vestige of that period is the Arab Baths –the best preserved on the Iberian Peninsula –built in the 13th and 14th century alongside the Arroyo de las Culebras.
Also worth exploring is Ronda’s Roman past, the major landmark being the Acipino Archaeological Site. Located some 20 kilometres outside the city, the standout feature in this complex is the Roman theatre.
Ronda – A City of Bulls
As intimated at the beginning of this post, the Bullring is another icon for which Ronda is famous. The Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, unveiled in 1785, is one of the oldest and most monumental bullrings in Spain. Interestingly enough, its design is attributed to Martín de Aldehuela, artificer of the Puente Nuevo. For those who wish to explore the world of bullfighting, the bullring includes the Museo de la Tauromaquia (Museum of Tauromachy) which is open to the public.
However, Ronda is not only well-known in bullfighting circles for its bullring. It was here that modern tauromachy emerged, as did the Corridas Goyescas, and the city is the cradle of powerful matador dynasties like the Romeros and the Ordóñez. This is precisely why Ronda was frequented by its two best-known international aficionados, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, and the ashes of Orson Welles were deposited in the Ordóñez family estate in Ronda.
Ronda – the Home of Good Food and Drink!
The best way to round off a tour of Ronda is to try its culinary specialities, notably their sopa de castañas (chestnut soup),migas con chorizo (cured pork sausage crumble), rabo de toro (bull’s tail stew), conejo a la rondeña (Ronda-style rabbit) and perdiz al tajo (Tajo-style partridge).The ideal accompaniment to these dishes is any of wines produced in the nearby Serranía de Ronda, designated either DO Málaga or DO Sierras de Málaga.
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Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
28 September, 2015