December 5, 2020
Ronda, Spain
2018 / Ronda / Spain / x

Ronda, Spain (20-22 March 2018)

Getting from Lisbon, Portugal to Ronda, Spain proved more difficult than we expected. Trains or car rentals aren’t as easy to arrange when crossing this particular border. We didn’t plan on an air flight but that’s what we ended up with, booking a flight to Malaga, Spain, renting a car and driving to Ronda. It turned out it was a fun drive from the airport through the countryside and into the mountains.

Our first introduction to Ronda at home was a Windows logon screen with a spectacular photo of the New Bridge in Ronda. Later we were told what a great place it was by our friends, the Vergins. After their stay in Nerja, they had spend several weeks in Ronda. The combination of the Windows’ photo and the Vergin’s comments, we decided to stop in Ronda, on our way to see them in Nerja for Easter this year.

Parking in Ronda, at least in the old town area where we were staying and planed to spend all our time, requires paying for a parking garage, unless you are extremely lucky – we chose a parking garage, several blocks from our hotel. The walk from the car to the hotel was pleasant, except for the noise of our suitcases as they rolled over tiled walks.

We stayed at the Hotel Don Miguel, perched on the edge of the river gorge, next to the New Bridge. The hotel rooms were okay, but the location was wonderful.

The main attraction, at least for us, is the New Bridge and the gorge it crosses. Below the bridge is the Río Guadalevín – the gorge is known as the El Tajo. The first afternoon we crossed the bridge, taking lots of photos. Once on the other side, we stopped for a snack and a glass of local red wine at Tabanco Los Arcos.

 

The rest of the afternoon and evening we wandered around the the area, including the famous bull ring (the entrance fee was €7/each, so we skipped going in), had dinner and took photos of the gorge and bridge.

The next day, March 21, we started out early. Our first goal was the Arab Baths, built between the 11th and 12th centuries, when Ronda was a strategic location for the Muslims. These baths are similar to the Roman baths, but primarily used steam rather than hot water. The baths are located below the city so they could get water from the nearby river.
Walking down toward the Arab Baths
Walking down toward the Arab Baths

On our way down the hill, we passed this 8 spigot fountain, the Fuente de los Ocho Caños!

Our route took us over the Old Bridge (Puente Viejo), rebuilt in 1616 at the site of an Arabic bridge (sometimes referred to as the Roman Bridge).

Then it was on to the Baths.

When we left the Baths, we walked along a road below the old Moorish Quarter, finally ending up in the Moorish Quarter at the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. This is the largest church in Ronda and was built on the remains of a Moorish mosque in the 15th century. Although there was an audio guide available, we chose to walk around on our own and just take in the sights.

Leaving the church, our next stop was for lunch at Café Restaurante El Campillo. We had a large lunch in preparation for descending into the El Tajo Gorge, which is 360 feet deep and 200 feet wide. Just across from the restaurant is the entrance to a path leading into the gorge. As you head down the path, the views of the New Bridge and the gorge are great.

 

Our last day in Ronda started with a visit to La Mina, a stairway of 230+ steps leading from the Moorish Quarter down to the river. These stairs were cut into the gorge in the 14th century to allow the Moors to retrieve water while under siege. They used Spanish slaves to bring the water up to the town. We decide to descend, then return. The steps were damp (in many places, very wet) and poorly lit. It was worth the effort even though the platform at the river was under repair and we could not go out onto it.

Next, we visited the Museo Lara, the eclectic collection of a single person, Juan Antonio Lara Jurado. It is a wonderful collection of watches, knives, cameras, handguns, rifles, microscopes, film projectors and many more. In the basement is a torture exhibit from the Inquisition.

 

After this museum, we need a glass of wine and some tapas, so we headed to the Cervecería, Café Mondragon, we had seen near the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor the day before. It was such a nice, sunny day, we picked it because of the out-door seating.

After this we decided to watch the sunset from the path down to the gorge and, hopefully, get some night photos of the New Bridge. Unfortunately, we were too tired to last until the sky was dark enough to get the photos we wanted.

The next morning we packed, got the car and drove back to Malaga to meet the Vergins and go to Nerja.

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