Spain, and in particular the Costa del Sol, is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, and from Marbella, Puerto Banus, Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Mijas Costa, Fuengirola, San Pedro, Málaga or Estepona Ronda is only a short drive, between 45 minutes and 1hr 15minutes away, and is rated one of THE must-see destinations in Spain.
Aside from the small and compact size of the city of Ronda, everywhere can be reached on foot in less than 30 minutes walking, Ronda has also been home to people spanning 30,000-40,000 years, most of whom have left their mark in the form of nearby cave paintings, bronze age burial chambers, a ruined Roman city, and the Moorish quarter.
Ronda makes a perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol, in fact Rondeños have a word that describes their lifestyle, tranquila, very peaceful. It certainly describes Ronda well. Here’s a list of monuments you can see if you have 3-4 hours to wander around Ronda.
The Bullring (Plaza de Toros)
Often referred to as Spain’s largest and oldest bullring, it’s real significance is it’s beauty as an architectural wonder, and as the bullring where Pedro Romero, the father of modern bullfighting perfected his art. The museum of bullfighting is located under the seating in the rear of the building.
Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is owned by the Real Maestranza de Caballero de Ronda, and is an exceptional building that is open to the public. It contains 136 tuscan columns that hold the stands, and the entire plaza is built from rock quarried locally.
Yes, if you really want to, you can pretend to be a bull and run around the rueda, nobody will laugh, we’ve all done it.
The Puente Nuevo
Universally recognizable, the Puente Nuevo is one of Spain’s most photographed monuments and stands 98 metres above the tajo gorge. It’s a truly impressive site, all the more so because the rocks used to build the bridge were quarried from below on the river bed, and then hoisted into position using an innovative system of pulleys.
The bridge featured in Ernest Hemingway’s award winning novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, though we’ll leave it to your imagination to decide if his story was true.
Originally built when Ronda was an independent kingdom, the Mondragon Palace isn’t much to look at from outside, but inside contains the Municipal Museum of Ronda and some beautiful original courtyards and terraces.
It was from here that the Catholic Kings accepted the surrender of the last Muslim governor of Ronda in 1485, but since then the palace has reverted to more peaceful uses, in fact being a popular wedding venue for Rondeños and visitors alike.
Moorish King’s House and Gardens
Back in the early 20th century before war descended on Spain the Duquesa de Parcent owned several houses in the Moorish Quarter, the largest of them being her own residence which became known as the Casa del Rey Moro, the Moorish King’s House, owing to the impressive dungeon and fortress carved into the living rock beneath the palace.
Legend has it that during the Moorish era Christian slaves would be chained to the steps and made to pass jugs of water from the river to the city water tanks above. During the Duquesa’s ownership of the palace the terraced gardens were redesigned by Forestier in the style of French aristocratic gardens of the era.
Back in Moorish times, public baths were a very popular social setting, and also a mandatory stop for visitors to Ronda who were required to cleanse themselves physically and spiritually in the adjacent Mosque before being allowed to enter the city proper.
The Arab Baths in Ronda have undergone extensive renovations in recent times, including restoration of the gardens and making the baths accessible to mobility challenged people.
Getting to Ronda
Coming to Ronda is easy, there are buses from Málaga several times per day, as well as buses from Torremolinos that pass through Marbella on their way to Ronda. Train services are also quite frequent from Málaga. Of course most people drive to Ronda, either using the San Pedro to Ronda road, or taking the road from Málaga to Coín and then following the signs to Campillos but turning off well before on the road to Ronda.
Arriving in Ronda can be confusing, the city has a ring road that is far out of town, but following the signs for the ‘Centro Cuidad’ on both roads will bring you to a large roundabout with a train line running over it. At this roundabout you’ll enter Ronda on the main dual carriageway through the city known as Avenida de Málaga, and the very end of which you’ll find the huge underground carpark “Parking Martinez Astein”.
From the carpark, exit at Avde de Málaga, and you’ll find yourself standing at the top end of a long pedestrianised street, this is Carrera Espinel, loving known locally as La Bola. Walk to the very end of this street (around 800m) and you’ll be standing directly opposite Ronda’s famous bullring, the Plaza de Toros.