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.

About Ronda
Nestled between the National Parks of the Sierra de las Nieves (Mountains of Snow) and the Grazalema Mountain range, Ronda lies just over 60 miles west of Málaga and 80 miles south east of Andalucía’s capital city, Sevilla in Málaga Province. The city itself sits high in the Serranía de Ronda, or Ronda Mountain Range, at an altitude of around 2,400 feet. Its lofty location offers stunning, panoramic views for miles over the dramatically beautiful Andalucían countryside. Today, it is best known for its status as a Pueblo Blanco (White Village) and for its vertiginous 390 ft deep Tajo gorge.

Ronda and the surrounding mountains, La Serranía de Ronda has been populated since the first Europeans migrated from Africa over 25.000 years ago, as seen in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic cave rock-art found in the Cueva de la Pileta. Although there were Bronze Age and Celtic settlements prior, it was the Romans who gave the first written records of the town of Arunda after conquering the area in the 2nd century BC. Julius Caesar gave Ronda city status and granted its inhabitants Roman citizenship after his last victorious battle before his return to Rome in 45 BC. Excavations in Ronda’s Historical Centre have uncovered Roman urban development and there is still a complete Roman theatre in Acinipo, merely 20 minutes outside the town.

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…”
Ernest Hemingway

Ronda is most noted for the Tajo gorge and the bridge which spans it. At 390 ft deep (120m) the chasm, which was caused by the flow of the Rio Tajo, splits the town into two distinct areas – the historic Moorish area of the city on one side and the more modern part, El Mercadillo, on the other. The gorge has been spanned by many bridges in the history of the city, and the most recent one, El Puente Nuevo (the New Bridge), which was completed in 1793, offers visitors a spectacular vantage point from which to see the surrounding landscape. Visitors to the bridge can also visit the prison underneath it which houses an exhibition explaining its construction and history.

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.

When in Spain, and particularly in Andalucía, sampling the local food is a must: the fertile soil and the pleasant climate contribute towards an abundance of excellent, locally-produced food and drink. There are many top quality food establishments in the city offering everything from fine dining to rustic, authentic tapas. In a region bordered by the Mediterranean, the seafood is varied and plentiful, with dishes such as pescaíto frito (fish fried in olive oil), as well as succulent shellfish such as el ostión or giant oyster, prawns, shrimps, clams and crabs. Jamón iberico or Iberian ham, is another popular local delicacy and you will often see sides of this cured meat hanging in butchers’ shops. Gazpacho, the chilled garlic and tomato soup, is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s afternoon.

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.

Walking and hiking are popular activities and a perfect way to experience the beauty of the region at a leisurely pace. The Spanish are known for their love of horses, and you’ll find a number of riding schools available if you prefer four legs to two. Vineyard and wine tasting tours are also available for those who wish to sample what the region has to offer in the way of vinification. Flamenco reflects Spain’s passionate culture through dance and an evening performance is well worth it. Because of the unspoiled nature of the region, wildlife abounds and if you’re interested in bird watching, it’s an ideal location for spotting indigenous species such as raptors as well as migratory visitors to the region.

The Spanish love a fiesta and plan many of their bank holidays around events in the Church Calendar. From Spring Fairs to Harvest Festivals and Saints’ Days in between, the Ronda fiesta schedule can become very hectic. In the Andalucia area alone there are over 3,000 fiestas every year! The year in Ronda starts with New Year’s Day celebrations and then on January 6th, it’s the day Spanish children wait for, La Dia de Los Reyes or the Day of the Kings. It’s a day to mark the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus and marks Epiphany or the 12th Day of Christmas. Floats and processions line the streets, special cakes are baked and the children receive their much-anticipated presents. January 24th is La Fiesta de la Virgen de la Paz (Our Lady of Peace) who is the patron saint of Ronda. Decorative and beautiful statues of the Virgin are carried around the town in celebration.

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.