Ronda Spain

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Puente Nuevo in Ronda

Enter Ronda on the Puente Nuevo

What is it about Ronda? I’ve been there more times than I can remember yet still feel excited every time I return. Maybe it’s the beautiful drive through the Serranía de Ronda to get there, or maybe it’s the blue sky that always seems to accompany my visits combined with the warm sun shining on the ancient, white washed buildings of the old town. Maybe it’s the sight of the Parador hotel standing high above the Tajo gorge as you approach the Puente Nuevo or is it the sight of the Plaza de Toros where Pedro Romero picked up his cape to take on the bull and became the father of modern bullfighting? I don’t know. I guess it’s a combination of all those things and a lot more.

The town of Ronda lies 60km up a winding mountain road from Marbella at an altitude of 739m. It’s one of the most visited towns in Andalucia thanks largely to the mobs of tourists who arrive daily on coach excursions from the Costa del Sol. If that’s your only way of getting there then go for it, it’s well worthwhile but if you have your own transport or can get there independently by bus or train then better still, especially if you can spend a night or two there. There’s a good selection of excellent hotels in town and some quaint family-run hostels. Stay the night and you can join the ‘Rondeños’ on their daily ‘paseo’ up and down what is known locally as “Calle la Bola” (c/Carrera Espinel). This pedestrianised street is packed with interesting, little shops as well as local bars, cafés and fabulous cake shops (and that comes from someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth!).

Getting There

Ronda TransportBuses arrive in Ronda from Malaga and the main coastal resorts on their way to Seville and beyond whilst train services arrive from Granada, Malaga, Seville and Algeciras. It isn’t the best connected place in Spain so ideally you’d drive here and, time permitting, use it as a base from which to discover the beautiful villages of the region known collectively as ‘Los Pueblos Blancos’.

If you do drive up you should park in the public parking by the bullring or one of the nearby underground car parks as it’s easy to walk around the whole town in a short time. Driving around is fairly impossible.

If you arrive by public transport, Ronda’s train and bus stations are both in the Mercadillo quarter to the northeast of the bullring. Trains arrive on Avenida Andalucía, a ten-minute walk or easy bus ride from the centre, and all the bus companies use the terminal close by on Plaza Redondo.

For train timetables and routes see www.renfe.es.

There is a tourist information office (turismo) on the Plaza de España near the Parador hotel and another across the car park from the bullring.

What to See

As you enter Ronda from the south you’ll cross the “new” bridge which was built in 1761. This Puente Nuevo stands 130 metres above the Guadelevín river below. It seems that a scene from Ernest Hemingway’s novel ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ which describes fascist sympathisers being pushed to their death in a deep gorge refers to true events which occured in Ronda during the Spanish civil war. Hemingway was a regular visitor to Ronda and there’s a great photo on sale in some of the tourist shops in the town centre showing him alongside Orson Welles and local bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez whose statue stands outside the ancient bullring.

Iglesia de Santa María

Iglesia de Santa María

Whilst the general architecture and atmosphere of Ronda announces its Moorish past, it’s the Iglesia de Santa María de la Encarnación la Mayor in Plaza Duquesa de Parcent that bears the clearest testament to that era. As is typical throughout Andalucia, this church was built on the site of a former mosque whilst retaining many characteristics of the original building. Another Moorish site of note are the 13th century Arab baths which are probably the best preserved in the country. They lie just a few minutes walk beyond the amazing Enfrente Arte hotel which is one of my two favourite places to stay in Ronda along with the Parador.

When to Visit

Whilst Ronda gets more than its fair share of blue sky days all year round be prepared for some very cold days up here in the mountains during the winter months. Spring tends to be mild and dry whilst summer temperatures are usually very pleasant. In terms of events the big celebration of the year is the Feria de Pedro Romero during the first week of September when locals dress in typical 18th century Goyesque costumes.

Day Excursions to Ronda from the Costa del Sol

There are daily excursions from all the main resorts along the Costa del Sol travelling by luxury, air-conditioned coach. Alternatively, you can hire a private driver and guide. These trips allow you to enjoy a sightseeing tour of all the main sights, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then spend some free time looking around before returning to your hotel on the coast.

Coach Excursion to Ronda from the Costa del Sol
(Tour Reference Nº: 1321)

Book Private Excursion to Malaga, Mijas and Ronda
(Tour Reference Nº: 1240)

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