One day at Ronda

Ronda, located in the Spanish province of Malaga, is a unique city. It sits on top of a plateau split by a deep gorge through which river Guadalevin flows. The gorge splits the city into two halves, connected by the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), which gives the city an amazing landscape. Here we present our 1-day itinerary, that will take you through all of the main monuments and points of interest of Ronda.

Days: 1

Budget: $$$

Category: Cultural, Nature

Ronda, in the Spanish province of Málaga, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and unique cities that we have visited. Its peculiar location on the plateau known as the Ronda depression, which is cut by a deep gorge excavated by the Guadalevín river, gives it amazing views of the surrounding highlands, known as Serranía de Ronda. The incredible views of the city (such as those of the Puente Nuevo linking both halves of the city through the old town), its large number of monuments and its delicious cuisine make it an amazing destination that you should not miss.

Here we present a one-day route through the main points of interest in Ronda. Ronda is well connected by road, so it is easy to do this route as a day trip from nearby cities. We did it from Seville, which is less than 2 hours by car. In order to make the most of the itinerary and finish the excursion eating in one of its highly recommended restaurants, we recommend that you arrive before 10 in the morning.

Our route begins in the north of Ronda, in the Alameda del Tajo (“Boulevard of the Gorge”). This beautiful park has a large variety of trees, some of them several centuries old, and leads to the Paseo de los Ingleses (“Walkway of the Englishmen”). From this promenade, which extends along the edge of the Gorge, you can get impressive views of the region.

We continue along the promenade towards the south, until we reach the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda bullring. This institution was founded in 1573 as a school for horsemanship and cavalry. It is the oldest Real Maestranza de Caballería (“Royal Cavalry Armory”) in Spain, and currently focuses its activities on bullfighting and horse riding.

Next to the bullring is a statue of Ernest Hemingway, an American writer who was amazed by Ronda and its bullfighting festival. From there we continued to the Mirador de Ronda (“Ronda Viewpoint”), where we could enjoy more incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

We left behind the Parador de Ronda hotel to make our way towards the Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”), which is probably the most iconic monument of the city. The current bridge was built between 1751 and 1793, and connects the two parts of the city that are separated by the Gorge. The Interpretation Center of the New Bridge can be reached from its northern end. The entrance costs 2.50 euros, and it includes access to the lower part of the bridge, where we can find an exhibition with photographs and interesting information about the history of this bridge. There, we discovered, for example, that another bridge had been built in 1735 in the same place, but it collapsed 6 years later (causing 50 fatalities). The current bridge was built with a much better planning and execution, thanks in part to funds provided by the Real Maestranza de Caballería. 

Puente Nuevo

After finishing our visit to the Interpretation Center, we crossed the bridge towards its southern end. Here is located the Mirador de Aldehuela (“Aldehuela Viewpoint”), from where you can get amazing views of the cliffs of the Gorge.

Mirador de Aldehuela

We continued our route towards the south through Armiñán Street. Along the way we  found the Ronda tribute to Romantic Travelers, a beautiful representation of Ronda with ceramic tiles, surrounded by some of the descriptions of Ronda given by those known as “romantic travelers”. These were foreign travelers from the 19th century who were delighted by Ronda, and whose later advertising of Ronda contributed to the promotion of tourism in the area.

The Romantic Travelers

From there we went to the Plaza de María Auxiliadora (“María Auxiliadora Square”). From this small square you can follow the path to the Mirador del Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge Viewpoint”), from where you can enjoy one of the most iconic views of Ronda, with the Puente Nuevo over the Gorge. After reaching the viewpoint, it is possible to continue the path towards the lower part of the bridge, although after this point it is no longer paved and it becomes quite narrow. The trail goes beyond the bridge and next to the Guadalevín river. If you venture to follow it, you will get beautiful views of the river and Ronda from the lower part of the Gorge, but you should be careful since some sections can be quite slippery and unstable (especially if it has rained recently).

Descent to the Gorge

After going back to Plaza de María Auxiliadora, we returned to Armiñán Street. Our next stop was the Lara Museum, a museum with a very large variety of artistic pieces and antiquities located in the old House-Palace of the Counts of the Conquest of the Batanes Islands (a nobility title awarded at the end of the 18th century to Brigadier José Basco y Vargas for the conquest of this archipelago in the northern Philippines). The museum was inaugurated in 1999 by Juan Antonio Lara Jurado, and the collection of thousands of objects that it houses is truly impressive. The admission fee is 4 euros.

Once we concluded our visit to the museum, we continued to Plaza Duquesa de Parcent (“Duchess of Parcent Square”). The square is surrounded by the Town Hall of Ronda and the Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor (“Church of Saint Mary Major”), whose construction took place between the end of the 15th century (after the Reconquista) and the 18th century.

A little further south is the Castillo del Laurel (“Laurel Castle”), with the remains of an ancient Nasrid fortress built on a previous building of Roman origin.

Castillo del Laurel

Finally, we arrived at the Puerta de Almocábar (“Almocábar Gate”), located at the southern edge of the old town of Ronda. This gate and its walls were built in the 13th century, when Ronda was under Muslim rule. Its name comes from the Arabic word al-maqabir, which means “the cemetery” (the old Arab cemetery was located near the door, under the area that is currently the quarter of San Francisco).

Puerta de Almocábar

We then started our way back to the north of Ronda along Goleta Street. On the way we passed next to other sections of the walls of Ronda, among which the Carmen walls stand out. Like the rest of the walls of Ronda, their origin is in the Islamic period. This fragment was restored a few years ago, so it is in excellent condition. It is possible to climb one of the towers, from where you can get beautiful views of the lower part of Ronda.

We continued our way passing through the Puerta de la Cijara (“Cijara Gate”), another of the gates from the Nasrid period (although the current gate is a reconstruction of the original one). This gate separated the walled medina from the outskirts (a stretch of houses and shops that were outside the walled enclosure).

Puerta de la Cijara

After walking a bit further along the road, we arrived at the Puente Árabe (“Arab Bridge”), also known as Puente de San Miguel (“Saint Michael Bridge”) or Puente Romano (“Roman Bridge”) despite the fact that the bridge was built in Arab times, probably around the 11th century. A few meters away from it are the ruins of the Arab Baths.

Next we crossed the Puente Viejo (“Old Bridge”), whose exact origin is still uncertain. Some authors consider that it is a Roman bridge rebuilt by the Arabs, while others say that it is originally Arabic. In any case, the current structure comes mostly from 1616, when it was rebuilt on top of the ruins of the previous bridge. It was known as Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”) until the construction of the current major bridge in the 18th century.

Puente Viejo

After crossing Puente Viejo, we continued our ascent towards the upper part of the city through the Jardines de Cuenca (“Cuenca Gardens”). These beautiful gardens are located on the edge of the Gorge, and are structured as a series of staggered terraces from which you can obtain magnificent views of the Gorge and the east side of the Puente Nuevo. The gardens are dedicated to the city of Cuenca, which has been a sister city of Ronda since 1975 due to its similar location on the edge of a cliff.

After completing the ascent through the Jardines de Cuenca, we concluded our tour at the Plaza del Socorro (“Socorro Square”) of the old town. Next to the square is the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro (“Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help”), whose  symmetrical façade has two characteristic twin bell towers. It is said that in the place where the church currently stands established his camp García López de Padilla, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava, who participated in the reconquest of Ronda in 1485. In the square there is also a fountain with a statue of Hercules taming two lions, one of the symbols of Andalusia. To finish a magnificent day in this incredible city, we decided to have lunch at Mesón Rondeño. It is an excellent restaurant where you will be satisfied with any of its dishes, although we especially recommend its traditional oxtail a la rondeña and goat cheese with caramelized apple, in addition to its grilled meats! The restaurant easily gets completely full at lunchtime, so we recommend booking a table in advance.

Summary

Visited places:
  • Alameda del Tajo
  • Paseo de los Ingleses
  • Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda bullring
  • Statue of Ernest Hemingway
  • Mirador de Ronda
  • Puente Nuevo
  • Mirador de Aldehuela
  • Mirador del Puente Nuevo
  • The Gorge
  • Lara Museum
  • Plaza Duquesa de Parcent
  • Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor
  • Castillo del Laurel
  • Puerta de Almocábar
  • Carmen walls
  • Puerta de la Cijara
  • Puente Árabe
  • Puente Viejo
  • Jardines de Cuenca
  • Plaza del Socorro

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Lara and Rafa

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