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Best Sights of Ronda
Ronda is a small city of 40,000 about 110 kilometers away from Malaga. It is about 750 meters above sea level. Ernest Hemingway wrote that it is the most romantic town in Spain. In his novel “Death in the Afternoon” (1932), he said:
“There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any direction is romantic background. If a honeymoon or an elopement is not a success in Ronda, it would be as well to start for Paris and commence making your own friends.”
Many celebrities have been enraptured by the town and Orson Welles was buried here, in the ranch of one of his bullfighter friends, Antonio Ordoñez.
Antonio Ordoñez was the most famous matador in the 1950s and there is a statue of him outside the bullring. Orson Welles was a frequent visitor at his finca, called El Recreo, and Welles is buried in the well of the finca. There is a street named after Welles called El Paseo de Orson Welles, located near the bullring.
1. Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) - Ronda stands on a high promontory, or outcropping, which made it impregnable to the Christian armies until the very last years of the reconquest. This plateau is slashed into two main quarters by a deep cleft in the rock, spanned by the 18th century New Bridge, which is the chief landmark in the city. The most famous views are of the New Bridge, that crosses the gorge over the River Guadalevin and connects the two parts of the town. The views are very impressive and may give one the feeling of vertigo when one looks down to the small river below.
Where the Puente Nuevo stands now, there was another bridge that was built before. It had one arch and was built in 1735, but it fell down in 1740 and caused the death of about 50 people. Juan Martín de Aldehuela was the engineer of the present Puente Nuevo. He started it in 1751 and finished it in 1793, forty two years later. The bridge was built with hewn stones and stands 98 meters high. A central arch was built on top of an inferior arch, and beside the central arch are two smaller side arches. The ravine beside the bridge is about 100 meters deep and is formed by the Guadelevin River. This gorge is called "El Tajo". The views of the gorge below are impressive and unforgettable.
Below the central arch there is a room that was used as a prison, but now has the exhibition on the history of the bridge and its construction. In conclusion, the bridge represents Ronda to the whole world.
2. The Parador - There is a modern parador beside the New Bridge that can be visited and where one can rest in the spacious lobby. The building was completed in 1994.
3. Alameda Park - This is located close to the bullring and it has a lookout point where one can get panoramic views of the surrounding countryside below the cliffs. The park is beautiful and restful, filled with trees, flowers, and fountains.
4. Palacio de Mondragon - The municipal museum is located in this palace, which has many Mudejar features and a beautiful garden overlooking the gorge. The stone palace was built by the Moorish King Abomelik in 1314 and later Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand lived there after they conquered Ronda. The palace has been renovated several times after that. The museum is devoted to the history of Ronda. The beautiful gardens remind one of the Generalife Gardens of Granada, in miniature. When one sits down in the garden, one feels at peace with the world. The museum has many things, such as examples of Roman and Moorish tombs. There are about 5 patios. One of them is outdoors and has a Moorish fountain that leads to a beautiful garden, with shade trees and flowers and shrubs. It has a vista of the gorge also. The palace is very big and one can see the Moorish ceilings, doors, and windows, with elaborate geometric designs. This palace is the best thing to see in Ronda.
5. Church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, La Mayor - This church has a beautiful main altar. It was a mosque in the 13th century and was converted into a Catholic church in the 17th century. The church suffered great damage in an earthquake in 1580. A belfry was put on top of the old minaret, which is made of uncovered brickwork. The facade of the church has two balconies. There are three naves with Gothic columns and ogives. The Renaissance choir is beautiful.
The beautiful main altarpiece is Baroque and gilded, finished in the 18th century. There are four Salomonic columns that are decorated with motifs of vines and fruits. There are big murals painted by a French lady artist, Raymonde Pagegie, who volunteered to paint them a few years ago. They represent scenes from the life of St. Peter, the Fall of St. Paul, the Vision of the Apocalypse, the Crucifixion, and the Last Supper. The paintings were done between 1982 and 1988.
6. City Hall - This building was constructed in 1734 in the Neo-Classic style. It was formerly the Military Barracks. The building has a beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling from the 16th century. This was donated by the Countess of Santa Pola and is located over the main entrance stairway. The building has an assembly hall and has arches over stone columns.
7. Museo Lara - This museum is housed in the Casa Palacio de los Condes de la Conquista. The building is from the 18th century and the museum houses the biggest private collection in Spain. It has arms, watches, microscopes, typewriters, telephones, and many other things from the 19th century. The owner is still alive and lives on the second floor of the building, which is off limits to visitors.
8. The Bullring - This is one of the oldest bullfight rings in Spain in the center of town and holds 5000 spectators. It is called the Real Maestranza and was built in 1785 by the architect Jose Martin Aldehuela. The design is Neoclassic and the stone main entry was designed by Juan Llamas. There are two tiers for the spectators and there are 68 arches. The arena is one of the largest in Spain and measures 66 meters in diameter.
During one part of the year they celebrate the Goyescas, on the first week of September, where the bullfighters and spectators dress in period costumes depicting times during the painter Goya's lifetime. The Goyescas are the most expensive bullfight event in Spain and the rich and famous can be seen at this event.
9. Church of La Merced - The church was built in between the 16th and 17th centuries and there is a golden reliquary adorned with precious stones that contains the incorrupt hand of Santa Teresa de Jesus.
10. House of Saint John Bosco - This house is located in Calle Tenorio, 20. It was built in the modernist style at the beginning of the 20th century by the Granadinos Family. It was given to the Salesian Brothers for use as a rest home for the elderly and sick priests of that order. Its patio is beautiful and is decorated with Nasrid tiles. The garden is on the edge of the cliff and one has a wonderful view of the New Bridge.
11. The House of the Moorish King (El Rey Moro) - This building was completed in the 18th century and remodeled by the Duchess of Parcent in 1920. It has gardens designed by the French architect Jean Claude Forestier, who also designed the Maria Luisa Park in Seville. The building has an underground mine, which has steps leading down to the Guadelevin River and was used to fetch and store water. This mine was built by King Abomelik in the 14th century and slaves had to bring the water up in goatskins.
12. Palace of the Marquis de Salvatierra - The Baroque facade is from 1798 with a door with a lintel and Corinthian columns on each side. There is a balcony with beautiful wrought iron, and there is a pediment that is supported by the statues of four bare Indians from the Americas. Above the balcony is the coat of arms of Vasco Martin de Salvatierra, who worked for the Catholic Kings.
13. Church of Socorro - This church is located at the Plaza del Socorro and was built in 1956 in a Neo-Baroque style. Before that there was another church that was built over a mosque in the 16th century, but this church was destroyed in 1936. There are three naves and five domes, with a Baroque decoration. The facade has two quadrangular towers with tiled roofs, one tower on each side of the main entrance. Above the main doorway is a statue of the Baby Jesus.
14. Gate of Almocabar - This gate is located in the ramparts of Almocabar, at the entrance to the town from the main road. This was constructed by the Taifa King Abu-Nur in the 11th century.
15. Church of the Holy Spirit - King Fernando, the Catholic King, ordered this church to be built on top of a mosque and it was completed in 1505. The style is Gothic, with some Renaissance touches. There is one nave that measures 30 x 9 meters. It is divided in two sections with a big semicircular arch. The apse is covered with a Renaissance dome. The main altar is Baroque in style.
16. Gate of Philip V - This is located near the Old Bridge and was constructed in 1742 during the reign of the first Bourbon King of Spain, Philip V. There is a double arch made of ashlars and this is topped by three pinnacles and has the decoration of the shell of Anjou and the Royal coat of arms of the Bourbons.
17. The Old Bridge - The Arabs constructed this during the reign of King Abomelik. In 1616 a flood destroyed it and rebuilt completely. The bridge has one arch and is 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. In 1961 the bridge was again restored.
18. The Bridge of San Miguel - This is also called the Roman Bridge of the Tannery Bridge, but the Arabs were the ones who built the current bridge It has only one arch and is the smallest of the three bridges. The current bridge was reconstructed in 1961 after damage from river floods.
19. Minaret of Saint Sebastian - The original mosque was built by the Arabs in the 14th century. Later the Christians converted it into a church and dedicated it to Saint Sebastian. The tower is built with stone ashlars and brick and has a horse shoe door. It was used as the bell tower of the church.
20. Fountain of Eight Spouts (Ocho Caños) - This fountain is found in the Calle Real and comes from the 18th century. On one side of the fountain there are eight spouts with a little rosette around each spout. On the other side of the fountain there is a large drinking trough for animals. This part of the fountain was made during the reign of King Philip V. Several movies have made scenes in front of this fountain.
21. Church of Padre Jesus - The original church was called the Church of Santa Cecilia, which was constructed at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. There is a Gothic stone doorway and a Renaissance bell tower with three semicircular arches. The church has three naves and the central nave has a beautiful Mudejar ceiling.
The Serrania de Ronda
The Serrania de Ronda is the mountain range that surrounds the town of Ronda and is found in the western part of the Province of Malaga. The drive on the A374 Highway from Ronda to the town of Algodonales is one of the most beautiful, spectacular, and scenic drives in Spain because one can see mountains, hills, valleys, rivers, streams, beautiful green fields filled with wild flowers, small white towns and the very large and gorgeous lake that is formed by the Pantano Zahara de la Sierra (a water reservoir). The white towns cling to the sides of the mountains and the contrast between the white color of the white towns and the sides of the mountains remains in one's mind forever. One can also see olive groves, orange groves, and lemon groves along the way. One of the enchanting white towns is Zahara de la Sierra. Nearby is the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema, which is a very big natural park that has the pinsapo, a very unique tree that is a Spanish fir, and is called the Andalusian National Tree. This area is perfect for bicycle rides, hiking, and mountain climbing. One can see the natural plants in the area and enjoy bird watching. One can also see cows, sheep, and goats. This whole area is relatively unknown to most tourists and is best visited by car. During spring the views get spectacular with all the fields getting a very green color.