Ronda - Travel Guide
by Jo Macdonald
LOCATION: Andalucia, Spain
NEAREST AIRPORT: Malaga (approx. 90mins)
LANGUAGE SPOKEN: Spanish
MUST SEE: The stunning bridge known as the Puente Nuevo which spans the gorge separating the town, and the Plaza de Toros (the bullring) with it's museum.
MUST DO: Wander down into the gorge to get a great shot of the Puente Nuevo and don't forget to reward yourself afterwards (and restore your energy) with a rich, traditional Spanish Hot Chocolate.
MUST PACK: Camera - whilst your iphone will be great for some stunning panoramic shots and the odd selfie etc. you will be pleased you brought along something with a decent zoom lens as there are a million photo opportunities here; Decent Shoes - if you really want to see the Puente Nuevo at its best then a stroll (all or part of the way) down into the 150-metre gorge is a must, but with its steep climb back up you'll be grateful for a decent pair of shoes; Extra Layer - high up in the mountains, Ronda's weather can be a little cooler and windier than you might expect (except in August when temperatures of around 40 degrees are not uncommon) so an extra layer or two will come in handy, we ended up having to buy a jumper for our youngest as she was so cold when we visited in April.
GENERAL INFO: Ronda is a spectacular town to visit at any tme of year and is popular with tourists so you can expect to find it busy during the day and then quieter at night, once the tourists have headed back to their beach side hotels. The town is split in two by an incredible gorge created by the Tajo river and is full of centuries old houses and plenty of stunning Moorish architecture and winding streets. Like most Spanish towns it is packed full of great places to eat so stopping for a cold drink and some tapas is a must as you soak up the Spanish culture. Ronda was a favourite place of Ernest Hemmingway, who wrote several books set in Spain, and he is known to have spent his last birthday celebrating here. His connection to the town is celebrated with, amongst other things, a street named in his honour. Orson Welles was another frequent visitor and is buried nearby on a private estate.
The Puente Nuevo is a truly spectacular piece of architecture and although it's name means the new bridge it was actually completed in 1793 having taken 34 years to build. It is 98metres high and 66metres across and was built in three stages starting from the base in the gorge, each stage forming the foundation for the next. It's hard to see it and not marvel at its engineering genius, and even more so considering a previous bridge was built before this one, in the early 1730's, but wasn't strong enough and collapsed killing 50 people in 1741.
The Plaza de Toros is Ronda's famous bullring, one of the oldest in Spain. It is still in use but well worth visiting on an off day where you can stand in the centre with the sand whipping up around you and the seats encircling you - a truly impressive sight, whatever your thoughts on bullfighting. The attached museum offers an insight into the history of bullfighting and the famous matadors associated with Ronda.