The Mondragón Palace in Ronda is one of the towns most visited buildings, not only because it houses the Municipal Museum, but also for it’s Moorish courtyards, gardens and stunning views of the Sierra de Grazalema. the building evokes memories of kings, queens and governors who ruled and called Ronda their 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 who initiated a golden age in the city and implemented some 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.
After Abomelic’s defeat at the hands of Alfonso XI, the city of Ronda 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.
Ferdinand and Isabella
The palace was even used briefly 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 and no letters or other documentation 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.
Gardens at the Mondragón Palace in Ronda.
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.
Ronda Municipal Museum.
Located in the historic Mondragon Palace (Palacio de Mondragon), the Municipal Museum of Ronda details Ronda city’s history from the stone age to the present time with some very well made exhibits such as the Pileta Cave reconstruction, the stone age hut, iron age technology including sword making, the Roman period with an important exhibit on Acinipo, Moorish Ronda including a detailed exhibit of Arab funeral rites, and a very interesting display on life in Ronda’s heyday, the 17th and 18th centuries.
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)
Price of Entry
1.50€ if part of a group or ten or more, or children