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The Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Ronda occupies a very special place in modern Spanish culture and history as the home of the Rondeño style of bullfighting and also of the Real Maestranza De Caballería De Ronda. The bullring was built entirely of stone in the 18th century, during the golden years of Pedro Romero’s reign as champion bullfighter. Continue reading
A few kilometres from Ronda, just outside the white village of Benaojan lies one of the most spectacular cave systems in Spain, and in the mouth of one, several galleries of cave paintings that are as old as 30,000 years, and were created by paleolithic people of Ronda before the last great ice age. Best of all, the caves are open to the public with a local tour guide to explain the significance of the artwork.
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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.
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.
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.
It is hard to believe that Ronda was once a major centre in the Iberian provinces of the Roman Empire, however a quick look at the history books will find references to Acinipo and the terrible battles that occurred at Monda during a civil war between Julius Caesar and the sons of Pompey.
Acinipo the city was most likely founded by native Iberians several thousand years ago, and archeological evidence at the site shows a bronze age settlement existed here between 1100BC and 750BC, and a Carthiginian town may well have been established after this period, before the fall of Carthage in the Punic wars.
Carved in the cliffs of the ‘El Tajo’ gorge is a surprising mine and fortress that dates back to the Moorish era when constant wars in Al-Andalus required the city governors to protect water supplies to the people and defenders.
The Water Mine was built during the reign of Ronda’s King Abomelic at the beginning of the 14th century, when Ronda was an independent Islamic kingdom on the frontline between the Christian north, and the newly developing Islamic Nazari Kingdom in Granada. To reach the water mine it is necessary to first enter the gardens of the House of the Moorish King.