Tag Archives: Mondragón Palace

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Things To Do in Ronda During Your Stay

Ronda is one of the oldest towns in Europe, people have lived in the district for more than 30,000 years, and Ronda has been occupied for 9,000 years.

If you’re planning to visit Ronda here are the top things to do to help you enjoy your holiday. Ronda is a small city, and almost everything is within 500m of the Puento Nuevo bridge. Tourist office maps are printed in Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch, and Italian.

1. The Bullring (Plaza de Toros), considered to be the most historically important bullring in Spain, and home to the Ronda style with a matador on foot instead of horseback. The building can only seat 5000 people but has the largest central sand surface, known as the rueda, in the world. The structure is entirely built from locally quarried stone, then plastered and whitewashed. Read more.

2. The New Bridge (Puente Nuevo), the largest of Ronda’s several bridges that cross the impressive Tajo gorge that separates the city in two. The bridge is 98 meters tall with a tall central arch, and a room under the road that has been a hotel, a bar, a prison, and is now a small museum. Read more.

3. The Arab Baths are considered the most complete in Spain even though they are ruins, and offer a tantalizing glimpse into medievel Islamic times. Visitors are able to see the pump tower on which a donkey turned a crank that fed cold water to the baths. The water was heated and distributed in three rooms, a hot room for sweating out impurities, a warm room for massages and soaking, and a cold room to cool down. Read more.

4. The Mondragon Palace is a 13th century palace that archeologists believe was the home of Ronda’s Islamic King Abomelik when Ronda was the capital city of a large kingdom in Al-Andalus. The palace is home to the city museum with displays from the paleolithic, neolithic, Roman, Moorish, and Christian eras. Read more.

5. The medieval walls, with numerous gates and Islamic arches, high defensive towers and long stretches of impregnable stone wall that surround the old city and would take at least an hour to walk around. The most impressive sections are located at Almocabar in the Barrio San Francisco, Calle Goleta, and near the ruined flour mills in the Tajo gorge. Read more.

6. The Water Mine, a dark and scary escent to the Islamic era fortress carved into the gorge below the Casa del Rey Moro. Known as the Water Mine because for hundreds of years it operated as the only source of water into the city, with slaves chained to the steps to pass water bags upwards. Read more.

7. Visit the Santa Maria la Mayor church to see Ronda’s largest church, and also home to many of the Easter floats used in processions during Holy Week. The church was built on the foundations of an Islamic mosque, part of which is still visible in a small alcove as you enter. Read more.

8. Walk to the bottom of the gorge, though not for the faint hearted because this is a steep descent, but completely worth it to get that perfect photo of the bridge. Follow Calle Tenorio to the end and after the plaza take the walking track to the old Arab gate. If you wish, you can go through the gate and walk down and then under the Puente Nuevo.

9. Enjoy local tapas at one of the many outdoor bars in Ronda, with popular places being Plaza Socorro, Calle Nuevo, the Plaza in front of the Almocabar Gate, or Plaza Duquesa de Parcent.

10. Stroll through the old town at sunset as the tourists leave and Rondeños reclaim their city. This is the time when the real Ronda comes alive, with children playing in the plazas, families preparing their evening meal, and the sites and smells change completely.

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Ronda’s Main Attractions to Remain Open at Night

For the rest of September and all of October 2010, but possibly to be extended through the winter months, some of Ronda’s main attractions such as the Arab Baths, the Giant’s House, and the Mondragon Palace will remain open from 9pm until midnight to encourage visitors to the city to stay for a night or an extra night knowing that they can relax and not rush to see everything.

Entitled “Noches de embrujo nazarí en Ronda”, which can be loosely translated as An Evening of Moorish Enchantment, the focus will be on promoting the Nazari period when Andalusian architecture and art had reached it’s true golden age in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Arab Baths are considered Spain’s most complete Nazari public bath house, whilst the garden of the Mondragon Palace, and the patio of the Casa del Gigante (Giant’s House) are amongst the best examples of courtyard design known in Andalucia.

The event is being coordinated with the support of several local hotels and restaurants whose guests will be offered free entry to the monuments. Participants include the Parador Hotel, Montelirio, Maestranza, Don Miguel, Acinipo and EnfrenteArte, and the well known restaurants del Escudero and Jerez.

Speaking to Ronda Today, the director of the Parador Hotel Gonzalo Fernandez described this initiative as hugely important since overnight stays in Ronda have been falling, primarily due to visitors perception that Ronda is closed for business after 8pm. Significantly, the six hotels and two restaurants will foot the bill for the extra staff required to keep the three most important municipal attractions open during these extra three hours.

In addition to late night openings, the councillor for Tourism Francisco Cañestro is also planning to announce more art exhibitions on a world class level for Ronda. At present the Peinado Museum is hosting a collection of Picasso sketches owned by the Unicaja bank. November also see the inaugural year of the new International Political Film Festival which is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the city during a traditionally quiet season.

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Ronda’s Mondragón Palace

The Mondragón Palace is one of Ronda’s most visited buildings, not only because it houses the Municipal Museum, but mostly for it’s Moorish courtyards and gardens that evoke memories of kings and governors who called Ronda home.

The palace was the home of the Moorish King Abomelic I (also known as Abomelic Abd al-Malik, and in some history books as Abbel Mallek), who reigned all too briefly yet initiated a golden age in the city and started large construction projects. It is likely the palace already existed when Abomelic first arrived in Andalusia, with most experts seeming to agree the years 1306-1314 as likely dates of construction. Be sure to read our history of Ronda in Moorish times for more information.

After Abomelic’s defeat at the hands of Alfonso XI, the city came under the direct control of the Nasrid dynasty in Granada, whilst the Mondragón Palace assumed importance as the home of the Grenadian governors of Ronda prior to the reconquest of 1485, including the very last governor Hamet el Zegri.

The palace was even used by Ferdinand II after conquering Ronda in 1485, but is most remembered for supposedly hosting both Ferdinand and his incredibly popular spouse Isabella I when they stayed in Ronda during the Moorish rebellion of 1501. In fact there is no historical evidence that Isabella ever visited Ronda, certainly no letters have ever been uncovered addressed from her in Ronda.

FerdinandII awarded the palace in 1491 to Don Alonso de Valenzuela, a prominent family from Sevilla, for services rendered to the Spanish crown during the war of reconquest, The de Valenzuela family set about remodelling the palace, and almost all of the above ground construction being replaced

In 1569, Captain Don Melchor de Mondragón who was instrumental in putting down a Muslim rebellion at Istán a small village near Málaga was awarded family arms by Felipe II, and the ownership of the palace in Ronda along with lands in the surrounding area. The arms remain above the main entrance to this day.

The garden, and ground floor patios are largely as they were during Moorish times, though in respect of the central courtyard (inside the main entrance), and the private courtyard leading to the offices of the tourism staff, nothing of Moorish decoration remains. The large rear courtyard still retains impressive Moorish tiling and Arabic script, leading directly to the water garden, a miniature of the one found in Granada’s Alhambra.

By the late 16th century the palace was once again owned by the de Valenzuela family, though in a heated brawl in the city in the early 1600s Don Francisco de Valenzuela killed another gentleman in Ronda and was forced to flee to Naples where he married and bore a son, Don Fernando de Valenzuela (1630-1692), a man who during his lifetime became one of Spain’s most controversial court figures. In the 1670s Don Fernando, became an influential man, supposedly by virtue of being the Queen Regent Mariana’s lover after the death of her husband Philip II of Spain.

In 1675 Don Fernando was awarded the grandeeship Marquis de Villasierra, and then in 1677 made Prime Minister of Spain, and it was around this time the Palace assumed it’s other lesser known name Palacio Marques de Villasierra. By 1679 Don Fernando had been disgraced and exiled to the Philippines, dying years later in Mexico having never been allowed to return to Spain.

Mondragón Palace Opening Times

Monday to Friday from 9am till 7pm (09:00 till 19:00)
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays 10am till 3pm (10:00 till 15:00)

GPS Location
Latitude: 36.737775 (36° 44′ 15.99” N)
Longitude: -5.166643 (5° 9′ 59.91” W)

Price of Entry
3€ individual
1.50€ if part of a group or ten or more, or children

Mondragon Palace, Ronda, Andalucia, Spain

Mondragon Palace, Ronda, Andalucia, Spain Photographic Print
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