Perched atop sheer cliffs, with dramatic views, the beautiful, historic city of Ronda is full of monuments, palaces, churches, spectacular views, ancient ruins and modern day history. Home to bandits, bullfighters, authors and poets, it is a city to be enjoyed, to absorb to fall in love with and was well described by Ernest Hemingway when he said
“Ronda is the place where to go, if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon or for being with a girlfriend. The whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set… Nice promenades, good wine, excellent food, nothing to do…”
Of course, modern Ronda is a bustling town with plenty to do, however for our Private Marbella Escapes Tour to Ronda we take a leaf out of Hemingway’s book and take a leisurely stroll around the best sights in order to truly experience this beautiful city.
Below is a list of 10 of Ronda’s finest highlights, some well-known, others lesser so, they’re listed in the rough order of our tour, so if you’re thinking of a day trip to Ronda, read on and hopefully we’ve inspired you escape with us for the day!
- Puente Nuevo. Of course, the number one spot has to go to Ronda’s most emblematic monument, the famous Puente Nuevo or “New Bridge”. The symbol and the heart of the city, this 98m high bridge took 42 years to build and was finished in 1793. Its tiered arches span the dramatic el Tajo gorge, carved out over the millennia by the Rio Guadalevín and the bridge was constructed to join the old Moorish quarter (La Cuidad) and the newer, Christian quarter (El Mercadillo) which expanded as Ronda grew into an increasingly important trading town.
- Alameda de Tajo. This beautiful, tree lined haven in the middle of the city is a classic 19th century park. Its shady avenues lead down to one of the most unexpected and spectacular panoramic views in Ronda, over the Serrania de Ronda, the Sierra de Grazalema as well as the farms and huertas of the Hoya del Tajo. Popular with families for the evening paseo the park also provides an oasis of shade in the heat of the Andalucian summer.
- Jardines de Cuenca. Blissfully ignored by the tourist masses, the Cuenca Gardens are situated right on the edge of the Tajo gorge and offer a stunning view of the Puente Nuevo and down to the river below. Named in honour of an agreement between Ronda and the city of Cuenca, a city remarkably similar to Ronda.
- Puente Viejo & Puente Arabe. With confusing dates and names, these two, older bridges of Ronda are located at the edge of the gorge and linked the older part of Ronda with the expanding El Mercadillo quarter after the Reconquista. The Puente Viejo, constructed in the 16th century still carries road traffic and the older and smaller Puente Arabe is estimated to date from the 14th Both bridges offer great views of the nearby Arab Baths and offer a great glimpse into the everyday history of Ronda.
- Iglesia de Espiritu Santo and the Old City Walls. The 13th Century Puerta de Almocábar (derived from the Arabic “Al-Magabir” after the nearby Muslim cemetery), was the most important entrance to the old Moorish city and the walls illustrate well why Ronda was such a strategically important city. Work on the imposing Iglesia de Espiritu (Church of the Holy Spirit), started in 1485, the same year as the conquest of Ronda by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Ferdinand and this gothic church also forms part of the cities fortifications.
- El Tajo Gorge. A steep walk that zigzags down the steep slopes of the gorge takes us out of the city and partway down into the countryside. Not only does the short walk offer fantastic views of the Serrania de Ronda as well as the mills, olive groves and labourers cottages that fill the fertile and bowl shaped depression that is the Hoya del Tajo; the walk also offers the opportunity for the picture postcard view of Ronda. With the Puente Nuevo dominating and flanked by the gardens of the Alameda and the beautiful Parador hotel. The more adventurous can walk further down into the valley and up over the other side to the Virgen de la Cabeza hermitage and caves for a spectacular panoramic view of Ronda.
- Plaza de Duque de Parcent. Santa María La Mayor is one of the most important religious monuments in Ronda. Started in 1485 on the order of the Catholic Monarchs and finished almost 200 years later, after being partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1580. Archaeological evidence suggests it occupies a spot previously occupied by a paleochristian basilica as well as a mosque. A remarkable mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture it truly is a beautiful building in a beautiful square.
- Virgen de La Paz. Tucked away down the myriad back streets, is the small but beautiful church of the Virgen de La Paz, the patron saint of Ronda. This charming, hidden treasure is one of the most beautiful Baroque style buildings in Ronda. Entrance is free and with its beautiful ceiling and altar, this small, one nave church is well worth a visit.
- Palacio de Mondragon. One of Ronda’s most important civil buildings and legendary home of a great king as well as the last Arabic governor of Ronda. In Ronda. Its remarkable architecture leads out onto tranquil Moorish style gardens, which offer a peaceful respite from the city as well as a wonderful view.
- Plaza de Socorro. Arguably one of the most historic squares in modern day Andalucia. Sight of the unveiling in 1918 of the Andalucian Flag by the father of Andalucian nationalism, Blas Infante, whose statue stands nearby to the elegant building of the Circulo de Artistas, the balconies of which provided the scene for this historic moment. The other statute in the heart of the square is of course Hercules, with the Pillars of Hercules and two lions on either side of him, recoginsable as the motif in the centre of the Andalucian flag.
Ronda of course has many more delights to offer, all of which can be experienced on our Private Ronda tour. But hopefully the above has inspired you to visit Ronda, a city that inspired the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Richard Ford, Rilke and a litany of famous writers, poets and artists through the ages.