Once Upon a Time Upon a Time

Serrania de Ronda

BULLRING


Ronda is also famous as the birthplace of modern bullfighting, today glimpsed once a year at the spectacular Feria Goyesca. Held at the beginning of September, here fighters and some of the audience dress in the manner of Goya's sketches of life in the region. Legendary Rondeño bullfighter Pedro Romero broke away from the prevailing Jerez 'school' of horseback bullfighting in the 18th century to found a style of bullfighting in which matadores stood their ground against the bull on foot. The bullring, Plaza de Toros, is now a museum, and visitors can stroll out into the arena.

Despite being a growing town, Ronda retains much of its historic charm, particularly its old town. It is famous worldwide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre. Visitors make a beeline for the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, before taking in the views from the Alameda out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains.

The cobbled alley to the Mondragón leads naturally on to Ronda's loveliest public space, the leafy Plaza Duquesa de Parcent, which boasts a convent, two churches, including the toytown belltower of the iglesia Santa Maria de Mayor, and the handsome arched ayuntamiento (council) building. Nearby calle Armiñan leads down to the spacious plaza of the traditional workers' barrio, San Francisco, with excellent bars and restaurants. Back from the Mondragón, the Plaza del Campillo overlooks steps that zigzag down to a dramatic eye-level through the Puente Nuevo.

The town's pedestrianised 'high street', calle Espinel, opposite the bullring, is nicknamed 'La Bola' and is where Rondeños go for virtually everything and is interesting to r those visitors who like old fashioned shops.

COBBLED STREETS

Across the bridge, where an elegant cloistered 16th century convent is now an art museum, old Ronda, La Ciudad, sidewinds off into cobbled streets hemmed by handsome town mansions, some still occupied by Ronda's titled families. The Casa de Don Bosco is one such, its interior patio long ago roofed in glass against Ronda's harsh winters. Its small, almost folly-like gardens lose out, however, to the true star, a few minutes' walk to the furthest end of the Ciudad, the Palacio Mondragón. Clumsily modernised in parts during the 1960s, this still has working vestiges of the exquisite miniature water gardens dating from its time as a Moorish palace during Ronda's brief reign as a minor Caliphate under Córdoba in the 12th century.

Plaza Duquesa de Parcent is Ronda’s most picturesque square and one that is brimming with monuments. The Santa Maria del Mayor church is the highlight, a church which took over 200 years to build and is a mixture of gothic and Renaissance styles.

Other squares that come recommended are Plaza del Socorro (pictured above), the square in front of the Almocabar Gate and around Calle Nuevo. 

The Arabic baths in Ronda are the best preserved in Spain. They were built at the end of the 13th century during the reign of King Abomelik. The large cauldron used to heat the water is still visible and in good condition. The star-shaped vents in the roof were modelled after the ceiling of the more famous bathhouse at the Alhambra in Granada.

The baths are located in the old Arab quarter of the city, known as the San Miguel Quarter.

Address - Calle Molino de Alarcón, s/n. Entrance is 3.75€ per person.

The Cuenca Gardens are located on the ledges of the Tajo and distributed across a series of terraces. The views are fantastic and give you a unique and differing perspective of the city.

The terraces have been dedicated to Ronda's sister city of Cuenca. An agreement that was originally signed between the cities in 1975.

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