The Arab Baths, known in Spanish as the Baños Arabes are one of Ronda’s most important tourist attractions, and some argue more important than the unquestionably beautiful Puente Nuevo, or Ronda’s other claim to fame, the Plaza de Toros, home of Ronda’s bullfighting tradition.
Ronda’s Arab Baths are similar to the design perfected by the Romans, except that steam was used to sweat out pollutants from the body rather than soaking in hot water as the Romans used. The Moors of Spain were also Muslim, so religious traditions were important, a Mosque was located next to the baths, and the baths were more than just a sanitary facility; they were also a place where locals and visitors alike would stop to purify and cleanse their bodies before entering the Mosque to purify their souls.
Continue reading Ronda’s Arab Baths
The overwhelming majority of visitors to Ronda arrive, walk around the old town taking photographs, sample tapas in one of the popular tourist restaurants, and then leave. Meanwhile they miss so much that makes Ronda special, such as the adventure tourism that the city is nationally known for.
For the truly adventurous, a balloon flight over the city is a memorable way to get that special photo that so few ever seem to capture, and which can only be seen from 300ft above the city, suspended under a great globe of hot air.
Continue reading Balloon Flights over Ronda
Stretching from the Parador Hotel, around to Park Blas Infante, and along Paseo Hemingway, you’ll find some of the most impressive views in Ronda in the Alameda Park before the cliff top walk becomes the Paseo de los ingleses.
Far down below, actually as much as 200 metres at its deepest point lies the valley that in Moorish times was the wheat growing heart of Ronda, from which farmers and their laborers would collect the wheat grains and transport them to the mills that used to line the edge of the cliffs under Ronda’s hanging houses.
Continue reading Alameda Park and El Balcon del Coño
The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced is one of Ronda’s more curious churches, and is also a convent for the nuns and priests of the Discalced Carmelites of Ronda. La Merced is more correctly a basilica since it is home to a holy relic, the incorruptible hand of Saint Teresa of Avila and the story behind this is in itself worth telling even if you never visit the church, although if you come to Ronda you’ll most certainly see the church as you pass by.
Continue reading Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced Ronda
If you don’t mind a short walk of ten minutes after leaving the Puente Nuevo, just keep walking all along that same street, known as Calle Armiñan, for about a 700m. At the bottom of the hill you will find the old wall that used to protect Ronda from attack. Within the wall are two gates that were the main entrance to Ronda during Moorish times.
Continue reading Almocabar Gate and Wall (Puerte de Almocabar y Murallas)
For nearly 700 years Ronda was an Islamic city, and during this time is believed to have had 7 or 8 mosques, none of which exist today, except for the Minaret of San Sebastian which was converted into a bell tower after the adjacent mosque was reconsecrated a Christian church. It was here in 1485 that Ferdinand II is believed to have ordered a mass to offer thanks for the capture of Ronda.
The mosque wasn’t particularly large, but being the closest to the central mosque frequented by the city’s rulers and elite families, the mosque in Plaza Abul Beka probably served as the main mosque for merchants and middle ranking families of the city.
Continue reading San Sebastian Minaret (Alminar de San Sebastián)
When visiting Ronda, getting out into the little villages is one of the must do excursions that would render your vacation incomplete if you didn’t do, however a lot of visitors to Ronda don’t have access to a car, so Benaojan is one of the options to see an authentic white village.
Located on the southern boundary of the Sierra de Grazalema, Benaojan is convenient because both bus and train visit the village, and the trip is only 25 minutes from Ronda. My own trip saw me take the train along Mr Henderson’s railway walk, a comfortable and air conditioned journey that does however stop at Benaojan Estación, a small hamlet below the main village that requires a 20 minute walk before you see what Benaojan has to offer.
Continue reading A Short Trip to Benaojan
Jimera de Libar, easily reached by train from Ronda, by walking from Benaojan, or by car from both Cortes de la Frontera and Benaojan, is a delightful white village in the Guardiaro Valley of the Serranía de Ronda. Limestone mountains for the Sierra de Libar tower over the village and birds of prey frequently look down on the ant-like people going about their business.
In recent years the village has become exceedingly popular for holiday makers choosing to rent self-catered homes away from the hotels of the area, and then use the village as a base from which to explore the hiking trails of the Grazalema Natural Park. Mr Henderson’s railway walk from Benaojan to Jimera de Libar is a popular local excursion or day trip from Ronda.
Continue reading Jimera de Libar in the Guardiaro Valley