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Rustic Blue Holiday Guide to Ronda

Ronda is one of Andalucía's loveliest towns, steeped in history, reputedly Hemingway's favourite in all Spain …

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El Puente Nuevo constructed between 1759 y 1793 across the 100m deep gorge, El Tajo The 'mirador' looking across to the mountains Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor La Casa Consistorial in La Plaza Duquesa de Parcent Arco de Felipe V The gorge of El Tajo La Plaza del Socorro in the centre of town
Ronda
Population

35,060

Altitude

739 metres

Distance from Málaga

113 kilometres

Distance from the Coast

40 kilometres

Patron Saint

María Santísima de la Paz

Fiesta Dates

The 'romería' in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza in early June

The Fair and Festival of Pedro Romero, throughout the first week of September, culminating on 8th, 9th and 10th.

The Flamenco Singing Festival and the International Folklore Dance Festival are held in August.

Holy Week in Ronda is also a major event

Climate

Situated on its plateaux, and surrounded by mountain ranges, winters can be cold but in the main it's a delightful climate with 300 or so days of sunshine each year, and daytime summer temperatures usually around 30ºC

Description

El Tajo Gorge

Ronda is perhaps most famous for its dramatic escarpments and plunging river gorge which divides the medieval part of town from the 18th Century part.

Ronda is one of Andalucía's loveliest towns, spectacularly situated, steeped in history, reputedly Hemingway's favourite city in all Spain.

Standing on a towering plateau (739 metres above sea level) in the mountains of Málaga Province (not far from its border with Cádiz), it is perhaps most famous for the dramatic, plunging river gorge which divides the medieval (old) part of town from the 18th Century (modern) part. Coming a close second is its bullring, the oldest, largest and most beautiful in Spain.

The main road up to Ronda from San Pedro de Alcaucin on the Mediterranean coast (close to Marbella) is a spectacular one, climbing its windy way up through the mountains of Sierra Bermeja, before finally dropping down through the Serrania de Ronda to the town itself.

A magnificent setting

Standing on a towering plateau (739 metres above sea level), three natural parks are in close proximity, each of them offering a wealth of beauty.

It's a spectacular setting surrounded by the incomparable backdrop of the high sierras.

Three natural parks are in close proximity, each of them offering a wealth of beauty, great hiking and other outdoor activities.

Both La Sierra de las Nieves and La Sierra de Grazalema have been declared Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO. These craggy, limestone mountain regions, full of deep ravines, spectacular gorges and some of the world's deepest potholes, are extensively forested with rare Spanish fir. Home to one of the biggest populations of Spanish Ibex, here you will also find roe deer, wild cats, golden eagles, the owl and the otter, to name just a few.

Los Alcornocales Natural Park is another very beautiful region and contains one of the most important and extensive cork oak forests in the world.

Impenetrable

High cliffs on three of its sides offered natural defences so important to the Moors. Their cultural legacy is to be seen throughout the city.

The town itself, with a population of 35,000, is a delight, richly endowed with a heritage of magnificent buildings.

Although one of the oldest cities in Spain, with a history which dates back to the mists of time, it was only in the Middle Ages that Ronda finally came into its own, achieving the status of an independent kingdom under Arabic rule.

Its impenetrable position offered natural defences, in the form of high cliffs on three of its sides. And where the cliffs ran out, massive defensive walls were erected.

Small wonder that during the period of the Taifa kingdoms, when dozens of independent Islamic states vied for supremacy, the fiefdom of Ronda was even able to challenge the authority of Cordoban Caliphate. And the town was amongst the last to fall during the Reconquest, finally capitulating to Ferdinand's army in 1485.

The cultural legacy of the Moors is to be seen throughout the city. Ronda's strategic and defensive importance is seen in its imposing city walls. The ancient Medina was located between the natural border made by the Tajo Gorge and, on the other side, by the city walls themselves.

These walls - and their entrance gates - still stand proud today.

The Palace of Mondragon, the home of the great king Abbel Malik, has seen the best of Renaissance architecture added on to its already magnificent mudejar structure.

The Giant's House is another classic, one of the best conserved buildings of all nazari architecture. St. Sebastian's Minaret was formerly the tower of one of the many mosques of Ronda, later used as the bell tower of the church of St. Sebastian.

The Modern Age

Ronda finally become of age in the 18th Century, an affluent and important focal point, a romantic city with a diverse culture and traditions.

After the conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs in 1485, economic and cultural changes took place, streets were widened and squares opened. But the most impressive buildings and monuments, including The New Bridge and the Bullring, were constructed in the 18th century.

The Modern Age had arrived and Ronda had finally become of age, an affluent and important focal point within Andalucía, a romantic city with a diverse culture and traditions which spanned bullfighting to bandits, roaming the nearby hills.

The town is famous throughout Spain for two reasons. Firstly for the extraordinary bridge that spans its dizzy gorge and secondly for its bullring (Plaza de Toros) where the rules of the modern fight were laid down.

The New Bridge (Puente Nuevo) was finished in 1793, after more than 40 years of construction work. Almost 100 metres high, built with vast stones taken from the depth of the Tajo's gorge, it connects the modern quarter of the city with the old.

The birthplace of bullfighting

The Plaza de Toros is the oldest in the country, one of great character and beauty where the rules of bullfighting, as practised today, were first laid down.

It was the second attempt: the first 35 metre arch across the ravine was built in 1735, but collapsed soon after, causing the death of some 50 people. More recently, the bridge made still more macabre history as communists were tossed over, onto the rocks far below, during the Spanish Civil War.

Claimed to be the oldest bullring in Spain, the Plaza de Toros is also one the most monumental, with great character and beauty. For many rondeños, it is their spiritual home. It can rightly claim to be the ring where the rules of bullfighting, as practised today, were first laid down by Pedro Romero.

Until the time of Romeros (three generations of them fought bulls in Ronda), bulls had been fought on horseback. Legend has it that Romero's grandfather leapt into a ring during a 'corrida' to distract a bull away from a friend who had fallen from his horse. His grandson would perfect this way of moving then killing the bull on foot.

Majestic

Retaining all its historic charm, the cobbled streets and little alleys of old Ronda take you by handsome town mansions, beautiful churches and leafy spaces.

Where the uninitiated see simply a bull passing by a cape, an 'aficionado' can see a whole art form being acted out. Over the course of fifty years Romero killed some 5,000 bulls without ever sustaining a serious injury. He was so venerated by the people of Ronda that the annual September Feria became known as the Feria de Pedro Romero.

The other great fighter from Ronda was Antonio Ordoñez. He was fighting bulls during the period when Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway were frequent visitors to the town. Hemingway was to write several books inspired by his experiences during this time and Welles was so smitten by the town that he insisted that his ashes should be scattered in the patio garden of Ordoñez.

Known simply as El Maestro (the Master), Ordoñez is known for defining the 'deep' (hondo) manner of fighting bulls, a pared down, solemn way of approaching and passing the bulls which has none of the flourishes of the fighting style of Sevilla. Many claim that he was the greatest fighter to have lived. Ordoñez died a few years ago and his statue, and that of his uncle, now stands outside the Bull Ring. You'll see photos of him in most of the bars and restaurants of the town.

It was the Romantic movement who first 'discovered' the attractions of Ronda and it is easy to see why the town appealed to them. The houses of the town push right up to the very edge of the cliff face and a walk along the cliff-side walkway at sunset is an experience not to be forgotten.

This path, which runs from the Reina Victoria Hotel along and past the Alameda Gardens to the Bull Ring, came to be known as the 'paseo de los Ingleses'. This was because in the first half of the twentieth century Ronda came to be a sort of hill station for the Gibraltar garrison. Officers would ride up via Gaucín (or later take the train) in order to escape the heat and humidity of the coast. They would stay at the Reina Victoria which still retains, in parts, the airs and graces of that period. The hotel's terrace is a stunning place to watch the sun setting overt the Grazalema Sierra.

Obviously, no visit to the town would be complete without seeing both the Bull Ring and the New Bridge over the Tajo Gorge. But there are many other fabulous buildings and sights too. And lots of good restaurants and tapas bars to choose from.

Enjoy your visit to Ronda!

Holiday villas

Holiday villas near Ronda

  • ZC 74 - Sleeps 6

    In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this spacious villa has lovely gardens and a pool to match. A great choice for all the family. Simply relaxing here, soaking up the sunshine, taking a refreshing dip or two in the pool, it's a perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.

    from 1,300€ to 1,850€

  • ZC 33 - Sleeps 10 plus staff

    This magnificent, majestic mansion in the hills has real charisma and exquisite, grandiose style. One of the most stunning and spectacular houses in all Spain - in an equally glorious setting, it is impossible not to be captivated by its sumptuous elegance and comfort.

    from 6,740€ to 7,490€

  • ZC 75 - Sleeps 4

    Soaking up the sunshine, taking a dip in the pool, reading under the dappled shade of an old olive tree, this is what a holiday is all about. In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this spacious villa has lovely gardens and a pool to match.

    from 1,100€ to 1,600€

  • ZC 53 - Sleeps 12

    Once a derelict farmhouse and a few outbuildings, this is now one of the most beautiful places to stay anywhere in Europe. No expense has been spared in transforming its numerous buildings into a spacious, stylish, luxurious holiday villa. The result is, quite simply … stunning.

    from 3,170€ to 7,590€

  • ZC 76 - Sleeps 8 & 2 children

    In a beautiful valley just outside Ronda, this wonderful country house has joyous views, landscaped gardens and an irresistible 15 metre pool. Spacious, stylish and immaculately appointed, this is a family home which functions superbly.

    from 3,000€ to 4,400€

  • ZC 17 - Sleeps 8 & 2 children

    "Simply perfect, fantastic in every way!". That's what guests say about this superb villa near Ronda which combines elegance, style and comfort in abundance with its inherent Spanish charm. A wonderful holiday home in a great location.

    from 3,010€ to 3,800€

  • ZC 86 - Sleeps 6 + 2 children

    The location of this ultra-modern villa for visiting Ronda just can't be beaten. The villa is only a ten minute drive from this famous city but is surrounded by 2.5 hectares of private olive groves. Combine the peace of a country holiday with the excitement of Ronda's Andalucian culture.

    from 3,260€ to 4,280€

  • ZC 112 - Sleeps 10

    The entrance is through a conifer-lined drive to an Impressive low, wide, white villa with a lounging terrace at the front. Set in beautiful open country side, on the outskirts of the famous city of Ronda, you'll see cultivated fields with tractors and patchworks of ploughed land of all colours.

    from 1,540€ to 3,000€

  • ZC 79 - Sleeps 12

    Within its own 14 acres of delightful countryside, this farmhouse has been completely restored and refurbished to the very highest standards. Spacious, stylish and very comfortable, it offers serene and understated luxury. A piece of paradise tucked away in the Andalusian hills.

    from 4,380€ to 7,980€

  • ZC 27 - Sleeps 4

    Light and spacious, bright and cheerful, this modern property is perfect for a family holiday. In open countryside, just a few minutes drive from historic Ronda, it's within easy walking distance of Arriate, one of several charming little villages which are close at hand.

    from 670€ to 1,090€

  • ZC 106 - Sleeps 10

    Originally belonging to a much larger estate, this country estate house is set in its own vineyards, only ten minutes' drive from the famous city of Ronda. The grounds comprise 3.5 hectares, 2 of those are given to grapes which the owner uses in his own bodega.

    from 940€ to 2,880€

  • ZC 45 - Sleeps 8

    Unlike any other in Andalucia. Inspired by the Majorcan retreat of Claudia Schiffer, the villa is set in a secluded spot within seven acres of private land. Light, bright and airy, it´s very spacious (320m²) and full of interest. Here, traditional Spain meets head on with contemporary design!

    from 2,420€ to 4,490€

  • ZC 10 - Sleeps 10

    Built at the foot of the famous Ronda Gorge, the villa is surrounded by acres of landscaped olive groves. The style of architecture is Andalucian with a distinctly Moorish inspired flavour - warm, welcoming and inviting … this is a villa you will never want to leave.

    from 3,130€ to 4,500€

  • ZC 42 - Sleeps 2 and a baby

    Described by one client as "the most beautiful house I've ever seen" this is a delectable place to hide away with a loved one. The perfect place for a first (or second) honeymoon …

    from 1,300€ to 1,560€

  • ZC 96 - Sleeps 14 + 1 child

    Although built in 2006, the feel of this villa is one of a traditional Spanish country house, with its terracotta pan-tiled roof, white walls, wrought ironwork and antique doors, the welcome is classic Andaluz. There are no other houses around, but you are still only a short drive from Ronda and all that it has to offer.

    from 6,650€ to 10,500€

  • ZC 89 - Sleeps 6 or 8

    With a full size tennis court, sparkling pool and three hole practice golf course literally in your garden, this villa is ideal for the full family seeking a sporting holiday. But add to this the beautiful house and the proximity to Ronda and you have everything you need for a great break away.

    from 2,130€ to 2,490€

  • ZC 12 - Sleeps 6 or 8

    Looking out from the forest above the little village to a heavenly panorama of mountain, hill and wooded slopes, this is an intimate, enjoyable and friendly holiday home. A great place to stay.

    from 1,300€ to 1,760€

More photos

More photos of Ronda

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