Ronda will catch you by surprise if, like me, you are unfamiliar with its unique geography and historical significance.
And it doesn’t take much to turn that excitement into a passionate love affair with the gorgeous mountain town of Andalucia.
Divided by the spectacular El Tajo gorge born out of natural erosion and united by the iconic Puente Nuevo (new bridge), the Roman town is the birthplace of Spanish bullfighting.
Steep cobbled streets. Wrought iron window grilles crawling the walls of whitewashed houses. Remnants of Moorish architecture. All perching atop of a plateau over 700 metres above sea level.
Dreamy and oozing with history, Ronda is an everlasting beauty that will make your heart skip a beat every time.
The magic of Ronda really begins with the drive up Sierra Bermeja from the Mediterranean coast.
Depart from Marbella or Estepona along the AP-7. Once you hit the A-397 and start heading north, buckle up for a thrilling ride through its winding roads that open up to an unrivalled scenery.
We sat down for a quick lunch in Cafe Colon, a short walk from an open car park.
We enjoyed a simple and local menu served by a small kitchen and very friendly staff, who introduced us to some delicious and not-overly-sweet pastries.
It was also here that we tried pan con tomate (toast with tomato spread) for the first time and fell in love with its refreshing flavour. Luckily, you can easily recreate it at home with this recipe.
Plaza de Toros de Ronda
As the home of modern bullfighting, one of Ronda’s most famous sights is the bullring which was inaugurated in 1785.
Although the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza in Seville is often hailed as the oldest bullring in Spain, some argue the title belongs to Ronda because it was the first to stage a bullfight.
Both arenas share the prestige of giving Spain its fascinating history of the blood sport, but Ronda – with a unique construction and location – has a strong edge over Seville.
It is built entirely of sandstone, with two storeys of seating area covered by a bricks-tiled roof to shield the audience from the scorching heat.
Standing on a cliff, the bullring also houses a museum, overlooking the dramatic Serranía de Ronda mountain range.
November – February
Monday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm
April – September
Monday to Sunday: 10am – 8pm
March & October
Monday to Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Entrance Fee: €6.50
To appreciate the beauty of this engineering gem to its fullest, cross the bridge, walk along Calle Tenorio and you will arrive at a sweet little spot called Plaza del Campillo.
Follow the trail that will take you to the bottom of the gorge, where a small waterfall provides a gentle breeze. The path can get a little sandy and rocky, but it’s manageable.
Not only will you find travellers taken aback by the visual feast and attempting to get the best shot with their smartphone cameras or DSLR, artists and painters alike attentively sketch their impression of the bridge.
After you make your way back up the pathway, enjoy a performance by the street guitarist in the plaza. Take a sip of the intoxicating view of placid green plains.
Forget the passage of time and indulge in a brief moment of Spanish romance.
A short walk from Plaza del Campillo is Plaza Duquesa de Parcent – triangulated by the town hall, Santa Maria la Mayor and Convento de Santa Isabel.
Since we visited during Semana Santa (Holy Week), we managed to see how the church prepared for the Easter procession which was due to start at 8pm.
The City Wall, featuring the Xijara Gate, is not far from here. Take a stroll along the footpath and soak in all Ronda has to offer when the sun goes down.
We dined at Pedro Romero on Virgen de la Paz, which was lined with people waiting to watch the procession. That way we would be sure to catch a glimpse of the stunning parade.
Pedro Romero is named after city’s most famous matador and the father of modern bullfighting, who created the classic Ronda style.
We thoroughly enjoyed our food and Sangria, which did more than enough to fill us up and round off our amazing day in Ronda.
We also had a front row seat of the procession. Whether you are religious or not, this is truly a spectacle that cannot be missed – the sheer size of the pasos (floats) and the atmospheric imagery of hooded penitents will have you in awe.
The staff were so nice that, even though their English was limited, they gave us directions to exit the city where some roads were blocked due to the procession which would not finish until 4am!
Enjoy my song choice below for this post 🙂