Puente San Miguel
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced
Plaza de María Auxiliadora
Plaza Duquesa de Parcent
Ronda is one of the loveliest and most famous towns in Andalucia. Steeped in history, it stands on a towering plateau, a mighty outcrop, which made it impregnable to the Christian armies until the very last years of the re-conquest. In the mountains of Málaga province and is famous throughout Spain for the plunging river gorge which divides the town into two sections – medieval and 18th century.
Alemda de Tajo
Park your car at the car park behind Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced and after exiting the car park, turn left and then join the main road (Calle Virgen de la Paz) by turning right. Immediately to your right there is a park (Alemda de Tajo). Enter the park through the main entrance and go straight on until you get to the Cliff Edge (Wow, what a view! Not for those with nervous disposition!). After having frightened yourself or amazed yourself, which ever type you are, follow the cliff edge (turning left as you are facing the abyss!). Continue on the cliff edge and then through the park taking the walkway parallel to the cliff just past the Children’s Play area. At the end of this walkway you will see a magnificent statue of a Bull and to your left you have Spain’s oldest Bull Ring.
Ronda is most famous for its bullring, the oldest and most beautiful one in Spain; the arena itself is also the country’s largest. When there are no fights, the bullring is open to visitors, and has a fascinating museum with many mementos of Spain’s most renowned bullfighters. Ronda is located 50 km – about one hour’s drive – from San Pedro de Alcántara on the coast. The road winds up through the mountains of the Sierra Bermeja, and then descends into the Serrania de Ronda and the town itself. One of the most charming and fascinating towns in Andalucía, it is very popular with day-trippers from the Costa del Sol and has a wide range of cafés and restaurants. However, it retains all of its traditional charm and languid atmosphere.
Yes this is where it all began! Pre-Roman days, bulls were used to train the cavalry in the art of horsemanship and defensive riding by the indigenous people of Hispania. However, a sport without anyone dying was not much fun for the Romans, so they decided to add a bit of excitement to the sport by killing the Bull. This was actually symbolic as the Bull was the sign of Mithraism, the religion borrowed by the Roman Legionnaires from Rome’s most feared enemy and no other than the mighty Persians!. The sacrifice of the bull was homage to Mithra (The god for the Romans but regarded as an Angel by the Persians representing the Contract between God & Man). The Romans sacrificed the Bull and donated the meat to the poor, just as the Persians did the same at the start of their New Year (Spring Equinox) as depicted on the stone carvings of Persepolis. This practice of donating the meat to the poor still continues in Spain.
Cross over the cobbled square and you should find the Tourist Information Office. The quarter to the North of the gorge is known as El Mercadillo, with the Plaza de España, the site of Ronda’s recently built Parador and the spectacular walkway along the river gorge with superb views of the countryside below. This walkway leads to Ronda’s lovely ‘Mirador’, with colourful flowerbeds and a railing for sightseers to lean against as they gaze into the distance. This path will take you around the side of the gorge and then along the famous gorge known as ‘El Tajo’
The Cliff. The gorge is spanned by a stone bridge, “Puente Nuevo” or “New Bridge”, which is the chief landmark for all visitors and which once housed a prison. The first attempt to build the bridge took place in 1735, it consisted of a thirty-five metre diameter arch and was completed in just eight months. Unfortunately, this bridge collapsed, killing more than fifty people. The New Bridge structure began in 1751 and was finished in 1793 to coincide with the celebrations of the Royal May Fair of Ronda. The executive chief architect was José Martín de Aldehuela from Manzanera. This bridge is ninety-eight metres high and was built with stone taken from the depths of the Tajo gorge. This majestic monument also contains an information centre for visitors.
New Town – Old Town
You can walk from the Plaza de España up the Calle Nueva, Ronda’s pedestrian shopping district, where some of the shops still retain their traditional appearance and style.
For a real treat cross the Puente Nuevo to the old town where you will find the Palace of Mondragon, also known as Palace of the Marquis of Villasierra, is another wonderful example of local architecture and is the most significant civil monument of Ronda. Legend tells us that it was formerly home to the great king Abbel Malik or Abomelic, son of the Moroccan sultan Abul Asan. It is also known that the last Arab governor, Hamet el Zegrí also lived at this palace.