Secrets of Spain: spectacular, romantic Ronda

 

A spectacular city, in a daringly dramatic location, romantic Ronda is a must for anyone who loves beauty, history, culture, romance, delicious food and a taste of Spain’s Andalucian lifestyle. Perched on a plateau above a deep ravine, this captivating place is named Ronda because it is “surrounded” by the mountains of the Serrania de Ronda.

Did you know that Ronda wasn’t a secret to Julius Caesar, as it was he who first declared it to be a city way back in the latter part of the 4th century AD? In fact it was during the 9th century BC that it was originally established. Much of its glorious old town, that you can see today dates back to Islamic times, when it was a wealthy, important cultural centre. Filled with palaces and mosques, it also attracted its fair share of bandits because of its riches, which makes it even more romantic and colourful in Spanish folklore.

Ronda Spain

Apart from Ronda’s obvious majestic monuments and breathtaking views, to truly experience the local feeling, ideally you should try to embrace its vibrant culture and traditions, like its music, wine and Andalucian horses! But first let’s head to its old quarter.

Ronda Arabic Baths – Baños Ärabes

The Arabic baths in Ronda are the best preserved in all of Spain. Located in San Miguel, the old Arab quarter of the city, these, and the gorgeous old quarter, shouldn’t be missed. Later, you can head to the Aguas de Ronda, which is an authentic Arab Baths experience, just a a bit further up the road from the original ones.

Ronda Spain Arabic Baths

Idyllic walk and views – Puente Viejo

Built in 1616, the Puente Viejo (old bridge) can be reached by meandering through the charming old quarter, to the ancient stone steps near the Arabic Baths, which will take you down to the bridge, that is pedestrianised these days. Be sure to make a note of this, as it’s especially idyllic on a roasting hot summer’s day, as it’s lovely and cool there, plus you can see some beautiful Andalucian horses.

Ronda Guitar House

Enjoy the magic and mystery of the Spanish guitar, with daily concerts by the world-class musician and composer, Paco Seco. Paco and his lovely English wife, Lucy, are renowned for their warm welcome. Ronda Guitar House is a little oasis, not far from the Bull Ring, where you can enjoy a delicious glass of wine, while you listen to a mesmerisingly talented musician. There are also guest musicians every so often. The establishment has the status of a museum, with a marvellous array of world musical instruments on display, including handmade guitars and zithers. This is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Ronda Guitar House-Paco Seco

Savour the wine route

Now that you’ve seen the Andalucian horses and heard the magical music, it’s time to sample the local wine on the Ronda Wine Route (Ruta del Vino). This entire route – Serranía de Ronda Wine and Winery Route – actually covers ten wineries and a range of wine-related activities, in the districts of Arriate and Ronda. In Ronda you can head straight to the Bodegas La Sangre Ronda, as that is where you’ll find not only the winery, but also the Wine Interpretation Centre. The Bodegas use traditional methods, while respecting nature. Learn about the local wine there and get a real taste of Ronda.

Follow in Orson Welles’ footsteps

Did you know that Orson Welles requested that his ashes were to rest in Ronda? Naturally enough this is related to this quote of his: “A man is not from where he is born, but where he chooses to die.” I imagine that in life, he would have spent his fair share of time in the most picturesque, tranquil spot of Ronda, the square – Plaza Duquesa de Parcent. Surrounded by an abundance of monuments, this is a peaceful, shady place to sit a while, listening to the fountain and admiring the beautiful monuments. Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mayor and the Town Hall are two of the highlights.

Ronda Spain charming streets-

Casa del Rey Moro mansion and gardens

This impressive mansion is first referred to back in the 18th century, and since then has undergone restoration work a few times. Spend time in the gardens, which lead to La Mina (the mine). This is a 231 step Islamic staircase, which is impressively carved into the rock and will take you down to the river.

Ronda La Casa del Rey Moro

Mondragon Palace

A 13th century palace that used to be home to King Abomelik, who reigned at the time that Ronda was capital of a large Al-Andalus kingdom, today Mondragon Palace is home to the municipal museum. While there try to put aside some time to spend in the truly outstanding gardens with amazing views.

Ronda’s medieval walls

Ronda’s medieval walls, gates and arches can’t be missed – in Spanish, you’re look for the Murallas y Puerta de Almocábar. The impossible to miss long stretches of impressively, impregnable stone that surround the old city of Ronda, take a bit more than an hour to wander around. Some of the most outstanding sections can be found at Almocabar, located in the Barrio San Francisco, and Calle Goleta, close to the flour mills ruins, in the river Tajo gorge.

Ronda medieval walls

Plaza de Socorro

This is the main meeting point in the centre of town, with cafés, restaurants and shops all around a fountain, which features a statue of Daniel and the Lions. Adjacent to the pedestrian shopping street and above an underground car park, it’s a good place to sit and drink coffee and do a spot of people watching. but beware of the tourist traps. It’s not ideal for a meal!

Ronda Plaza de Socorro church

Jardines de Cuenca – Cuenca Gardens

From the Cuenca Gardens, you will get a different perspective of Ronda, along with magnificent views. The gardens are distributed over a series of terraces, located on the River Tajo’s ledges.

Walk the Tajo gorge – Springtime bliss

If you have time, walk down into the gorge along the Camino de los Molinos. The views are the best to be had. In Spring the whole valley floor is awash with flowers.

Ronda Spain stunning views-

Alameda del Tajo – beautiful views & ducks

Alameda park has beautiful views, along with some lovely afternoon sunshine and some ducks to feed! The sunniest place in winter and the coolest in Summer

Museo Lara – artefacts and a mermaid

Last but not least, Lara Museum is a hidden gem with some very peculiar and interesting artefacts, including a mermaid!

Where to stay

A few minutes walk from the Bandit Museum, is the charming, luxurious boutique Hotel San Gabriel. Originally built in 1736, this is originally a family home that has been converted into a 21-room hotel. This is an elegant example of the saying – “Mi casa es su casa” – “My house is your house.”

This is by no means a definitive guide to the spectacular, romantic city of Ronda, but I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to visit this wonderful highlight of Andalucia.

Jackie de Burca is Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Liz Peterson says:

    Oh man, this looks fantastic! I am headed to southern Spain next week and am absolutely trying to fit Ronda in!

  2. Hi Liz,
    Thanks so much for your comment. Just been over on your blog reading about your “debauchery in Sitges” :) A fun post. As the locals says: “What goes on at Carnival stays at Carnival” – or something along those lines.

    Enjoy Ronda – its fabs! Where else are you hoping to go when down south?

    Have fun,
    Jackie

  3. Oh Liz, I also forgot to mention that there are some special events for Semana Blanca in Ronda. For example the Ronda Guitar House has World Music sessions, you can even participate. Check it out on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/rondaguitarhouse

  4. Liz Peterson says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the additional tip – I’ll definitely check it out!

    I’m definitely going to Seville and Malaga and hopefully Gibraltar as well. Those + Ronda should probably be enough for 6 days I think ;)!

  5. Seville and Malaga are both lovely. Gibraltar isn’t at the top of my personal list, but I found it a bit like Little Britain, which I guess has its own charms. :) Have a super time on your trip, yes I think it’s fine for 6 days. Lobo Park in Antequera is a place to see wolves, if that is of interest to you.

  6. Would love to go to Ronda, looks like some amazing people have walked this route before me.Would love to hear Paco Seco.

  7. Yes Paula, you’d certainly be following some interesting footsteps. Paco Seco is a wonderfully gifted musician. Do try to get there whenever you make it to Ronda.

  8. Anna Parker says:

    spectacular indeed, this city is incredible. It reminds me of the villages perche in France, adding it to my wish list!

  9. I’ve always wanted to visir Ronda just having seen a few images of it but now Isee there are even mmore reasons to go. I’ll get there one day soon I hope.

  10. Erin says:

    That first photo is a beauty! I love history so a visit to Casa del Rey Moro mansion and gardens sounds right up my alley. There is so much to love about Spain.

  11. I need to go back to Ronda. I visited in 2000 and just had a few hours in the town which was beautiful. I’d love to go back and visit the Guitar House, discover the town’s walls and the Cuenca Gardens.

  12. Thanks lovely ladies for your comments :)

    Kathryn – I really hope you do :)

    Erin – yes I agree, it is stunning!

    Suzanne – thrilled to hear you’ve already been, and hope you manage to go back soon, and visit the Ronda Guitar House.

  13. noel says:

    so wonderful touring this gorgeous city again, thanks so much for showing us the highlights. I really loved walking the back areas and streets of Rhonda when I visit, oh about 10 years ago.

  14. Hi Noel,
    I can imagine that you loved it. :) You will definitely need to come back again to Ronda, I would absolutely love to see your photos, which would of course be spectacular.
    Thanks
    Jackie

  15. Jane Rees says:

    I have visited Ronda three times now, at different times of the year, and it’s always a delight. There is an amazing hotel, Jardins de la Murella, just outside the city walls. It’s really quirky and has amazing views over the Puerto del Viento. There are also some fantastic bars away from the centre. It was El Classico when we were there, Barça v Real Madrid, the most amazing atmosphere and great value too!

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