The City of Ronda, Inland from the Costa del Sol
No trip to Andalucia would be complete without a trip to the world-famous town of Ronda. We are fortunate that there is a great English language web-site
One of Spain’s oldest bullrings, a unique and stylish bridge connecting the two halves of the city over a gorge that has no equal, or the most complete Arab Bathhouse in the Iberian peninsula. Within her district lie some of the most precious and spectacular nature to be found in Europe, of course we can only be talking about Ronda, a jewel in central Andalusia.
As one of Spain’s smaller cities, it would be easy to overlook Ronda in favour of larger tourist areas, yet given Ronda’s rather unique position this would be a tragedy of epic proportions. It is a little known fact that Ronda has played a pivotal role in the history of Spain for as many 36,000 years, and even today, Ronda still manages to capture the imagination of travellers, nature lovers, artists, poets, historians, and those who are simply looking for a peaceful place to lay their hat.
No description of Ronda is complete without mentioning the reason so many visit. Ronda is the city where the Ronda school of bullfighting was invented by the Romero family, where toreros stand and face the bull. An art perfected in recent times by the Ordoñez family, watched by Orson Welles and Earnest Hemingway, and celebrated every year with the Corrida Goyesca and Pedro Romero Fería.
Mention Ronda’s name, and a dreamy look appears on the faces of all who have known her, it is not for nothing that Ronda is known to locals as the city of dreams, La Ciudad Soñada. Perhaps they’re remembering the Puente Nuevo, or perhaps tapas in one of the many restaurants. In Moorish times the city was described as the rose of Granada, even in those war weary days Ronda still exuded a beauty that fortifications and great battles couldn’t quite erase.
Her people are a tough lot, accustomed as they are to living in the mountains of Southern Spain. Ronda’s mountains are at once harsh and unforgiving, yet are in the souls of her people, these mountains protect the Serranía de Ronda from the worst of mother nature’s excesses, summers are cooler, winters milder, and storms when they pass through, more restrained. When other cities are flooded, Ronda isn’t; when other cities are baking in the summer heat, Ronda isn’t.
No wonder then that Rondeños love their mountains, and when the going got tough, it was always to the mountains that the people looked for protection. It is in the mountains that Some of Europe’s most beautiful endemic flowers can be found, it is here that great flocks of migrating birds stop to rest, it is here that a wealth of endemic local species make their home. The Serranía de Ronda is quite unique, some think universally unique, worthy of our protection, and most definitely a place that should be visited at least once in a lifetime.
So too was it her thousands of years ago that humans drew pictures in caves, or built mighty stone temples and burial chambers, and fashioned a life for themselves before and after the last ice age. Some of the great empires have laid claim to Ronda, beginning with the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, the Islamic Caliphate, and too, the empire that discovered much of Central and South America, the Spanish Empire. All of these people left their mark, Ronda is indeed a unique place.
It was in Ronda that bandits claimed the mountains and wreaked havoc on national trade, becoming legends amongst a people who had nothing except their dignity. It was here in the 1920s that Blas Infante, the founder of Andalusian patrimony unfurled the flag of Andalusia. It was here in Ronda that modern Andalusia was born, amongst a hard mountain people.
It was also in Ronda that Bizet found his muse, creating one of opera’s most loved characters, “Carmen, la de Ronda”. Several films have been shot in Ronda, the most famous at the Eight Spout Fountain in the Padre Jesus district of the city. The story is of a poor gypsy girl, a lady of the night, who falls madly in love with one of Napolean’s officers during the French occupation. The story is a love triangle tragedy that eventually results in the death of Carmen, and even today many see in this fictional character something of Ronda that yet exists in the Flamenco of the city.
If the mountains are in the souls of the people, then flamenco is in their blood, for no Rondeño feels complete without the raw energy of the bolero or the fandango coursing through their veins. Ronda is lucky to possess a rich history of flamenco, she is the birth place of Aniya la Gitana and Paca Aguilera, two of the greatest female flamenco singers of all time.
And now in the 21st century, Ronda is still producing musicians of international stature, such as María Villalón whose music is enchanting a new generation of Rondeño. But of course Rondeños love all music, and the monthly event calendar always includes musicians from other parts of Andalusia and Spain who choose to perform in this wonderful city.
The Serranía de Ronda is a large area, and Ronda is only one of many towns within it’s border. Some of the other places worth visiting include Setenil de las Bodegas, where many of the houses are inside caves, or Igualeja with it’s beautiful spring at the source of the river, or Banaojan where it is possible to see cave paintings thousands of years old.
To fully describe the Serranía de Ronda would fill several books, but being here allows the eye to see what words cannot describe, or the mind to revel in the richness of it’s beauty, so why not book a few nights in Ronda, or in one of the pueblos blancos of the Serranía, and see for yourself what Ronda can offer.
Hotel Ronda, Comfortable and Affordable in the Centre of Ronda
Over the last few years Ronda has steadily become more popular, the city is now the third most visited destination in Andalucia, consequently a lot of hoteliers have opened their doors, but none as comfortable and private as Hotel Ronda.
A family owned hotel with just five rooms and managed by Nieves, one of several sisters, she is a delightful little old lady with a huge beaming smile. Bjorn Heidenstrom on his travels through Spain described Nieves as his mother in Ronda because she was so helpful and friendly.
Hotel Ronda looks smart, has all the conveniences you expect, and best of all, it is located right in the centre of Ronda’s old Moorish quarter. In fact the hotel is directly across the road from the Casa del Rey Moro (in English this means the Moorish King’s House).
Aside from a selection of room capacities, from single, double, two person, even triple if needed, it is also possible to have a baby’s cot installed in your room as well. Each room enjoys reverse cycle air conditioning, television, large bathroom, and wardrobe.
In the near vicinity, less than 200m walking distance, are the gardens and mine of the Casa del Rey Moro, the Puente Nuevo bridge, the Convento de Santo Domingo, Palacio de Salvatierra, Arab Baths, Puente Romano, Ocho Caños Fountain and Padre Jesus Church, San Sebastian Minaret, and the main street that runs through the centre of Ronda.
Hotel Ronda also doesn’t suffer from big hotel blues with busy reception areas, or impersonal service. The person who welcomes you, is the same person who will knock on your door and ask to freshen your room. Small boutique hotels still have their place, and in Hotel Ronda Nieves and her family prefer it that way.
Telephone (+34) 952 872 232
Fax (+34) 952 877 618
Address C/ Ruedo Doña Elvira, 12
Parador de Ronda
Anyone on the lookout for the true and typical Spain and wants accommodation that pleasantly differs from the anonymous tourist ghettos on the coast should get to know the Paradores. These unique hotels are housed in historical, listed buildings, which are part of Spain’s cultural heritage. With much love and effort, they have been converted into modern hotels, many featuring original furniture. Their restaurants offer a refined regional cuisine, creating a charming contrast between old walls and a fresh interior design. In almost every one of Spain’s historical centers there is a Parador, be it in the famous towns of Andalusia, along the Camino de Santiago or in the countryside, in impressive palaces or castles. Here are a selection of the fascinating Paradores, great value for money and very stylish, historic atmosphere for less than 100 euro per night.
In the far south of Spain, the former city hall of the small town of Ronda near Málaga now houses the Parador of the same name (below). Tourists to Andalucia should not miss out on a visit to Ronda: its spectacular location on top of a rock plateau is simply breathtaking, just as is the Moorish historical town center. Behind its time-honored façade, the Parador de Ronda surprises with a light and colorful furnishing, full of Mediterranean charm, that surely will not fail to cheer up your spirit.