Considered the largest of Andalucia’s white villages or ‘pueblos blancos’, Ronda (pop. 36.000 approx.) is a lively Andalucían town steeped in history and tradition. Its dramatic location made it a favoured place for artists, such as Orson Wells, Rainer Maria Rilke and Ernest Hemingway. Perched on the edge of a gorge, gapped by Ronda’s emblematic bridge, the town offers breathtaking views like no other.
- History of Ronda
- Sites of interest Ronda
- Food and Dining in Ronda
- Things to do in Ronda
- Annual events in Ronda
The conquering Moorish forces captured Ronda in 713, renaming it Rundah, starting a period of seven centuries of Islamic rule. Today we can still find some fine examples of Moorish architecture, such as Ronda’s Arab baths, one of the best-preserved in all of Spain. As part of the Spanish monarchs queen Isabel and king Ferdinand re-conquest, the Marquis of Cádiz took Ronda in 1485. During the preceding years, the Spanish Inquisition forced Muslim and Jewish residents to convert to Catholicism or face persecution, leading to uprisings and violent massacres.
The 18th and 19th century saw Ronda as an outpost for mountain robbers, the infamous bandoleros, whose tales have been adopted into local folk legend. This was also when Ronda’s legendary Romero family created what we now think of as modern bullfighting, where the matador confronts the bull on foot, equipped with a red cape. The 20th century brought a wave of ‘romantic travellers’ to Ronda, including famous writers, painters and poets.
“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…”
Ronda’s largest church, La Iglesia de Santa María de la Encarnación la Mayor Ronda, was originally a 14th century mosque but has been adapted over the centuries to reflect the prevailing culture of the time. It is home to Ronda’s spectacular collection of Semana Santa statues which are paraded through the streets to celebrate Easter.
The Baños Arabes (Arab Baths) are a remarkably well-preserved Moorish bath house and are a popular tourist attraction, demonstrating Islamic ingenuity and design. bullfighting.
Ronda is also famous as being the spiritual home of bullfighting, as developed by the Romero and Ordoñez families. The Plaza de Toros, or bullring, is one of the oldest bullrings in the world and plays a very important part in the culture and history of both the area and Spain in general.
The region abounds in olive groves as well as wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables (if you’re there in spring look out for Huelva strawberries which are said to be the finest in the world). And, of course, you must sample the paella – each restaurant or tapas bar will have its own individual recipe which varies subtly so you can try and decide which one is your favourite. ¡Qué aproveche! The region is famous for its wines, and in particular, sherry, which is produced in nearby Jerez. Try the local rustic red, or opt for a sweet Malaga desert wine after dinner. There is something to suit every course and every palate.
Carnival is an important fiesta in many Catholic countries and marks the beginning of Lent. Most carnivals take place on or around Shrove Tuesday and consist of a parade, music, dancing and the crowning of a Carnival Queen. The end of Lent marks the beginning of Semana Santa or Holy Week when the streets of Ronda are filled with decorated floats carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary as well as the traditionally-garbed Nazarenos or penitents whose pointy white hoods are a distinctive feature.
As the year draws on, expect fiestas to celebrate the harvest of local produce such as olives, grapes, mushrooms or chestnuts, as well as wine! This party season culminates in Ronda in September when the city’s inhabitants celebrate the Feria Goyesca de Pedro Romero and dress in 18th century costumes to commemorate the life of their most famous bullfighting son.