Ronda, one of the oldest cities in Spain, is about 100 kilometers from Malaga. The atmosphere is nice and laidback, offers spectacular views thanks to its location on a 120-meter deep gorge and is one of the main reasons why you should visit the Spanish province of Andalusia.
You don’t want to miss these things when you go on a city trip to Ronda in Andalusia
The start of your city trip in Ronda: Puente Nuevo
The city grew up under the Romans and Moors – just like the rest of Andalusia – and you can feel that history everywhere in this city inhabited by 36,000 people. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles had their summer getaways there. One of the attractions is the Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge that spans the Tajo de Ronda gorge with the Guadalevin river as one of three bridges. The bridge connects the north of the city – with slightly less interesting sights – with the old, southern part. It is also a great starting point for exploring the city.
To the deepest gorge in Andalusia via Case del Moro
The first stop is Casa del Rey Moro, named after the Moorish king who never lived there, as it was built in the 18th century, long after the Moors left Spain. It also has a Moorish garden, created in 1912. What makes this building so special is the water mine underneath the building, built by the Moorish king when Ronda was under attack.
In the water mine you descend about 300 steps through dark corridors and rooms, including the Sala de Secretos. This space works like a whisper gallery, like you can find in St Pauls Cathedral in London. If you talk to someone across the room from one side of the room, they will hear you perfectly, while someone in the middle of the room will not understand what is being said. Try it out for yourself!
When you are (finally) down, you suddenly find yourself at the bottom of the big gorge that you looked into before. Birds fly up and down between the rocks and the blue-green water of the river gently ripples through the gorge. There is an almost serene silence. Then you can go up all 300 steps to return to the Casa del Rey Moro – the only entrance and exit.
Jardines de Cuenca
When you cross the Puento Viejo – you can actually see the gardens from the Casa del Rey Moro – you can walk through the Jardines de Cuenca. From these gardens you can enjoy fantastic views of the gorge below and perhaps the best view of old Ronda. Now walk further into La Ciudad, back via the Puento Viejo.
Inquisition and witches in Museo de Lara
I always like the small, nondescript museums in cities like this, especially when there are crazy or eye-catching collections on display. That’s why I certainly didn’t skip Museo Lara. It is tucked away in the Palace of the Earl of the Bataan Islands and houses the collection of Juan Antonio Lara Jury. The collection consists of the most diverse objects, such as old watches, clocks, weapons and bullfighter memorabilia. But this museum is especially worthwhile because of the cellar. Here you will find exhibits about the Spanish Inquisition and witchcraft, instruments of torture and the most bizarre creatures, composed of several stuffed animals, which seem to have walked away from a Jeroen Bosch painting. A bat-headed tarantula, for example. Creepy!
City trip along city walls and romantic squares in Ronda
Continue your tour now to the Plaza Duquesa de Parcent, Ronda’s most beautiful and romantic square. It is quiet, green and there is a lot to see. Most notable building is the Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mayor, built on the ruins of a mosque. Moorish influences can still be seen in the architectural style. This square is especially magically beautiful at night.
For the next stop you have to walk a bit, to the Baños Arabas. You walk along the high walls of Ronda a bit down, just outside the city walls and arrive at the Arab bathhouse from the 12th century. This is one of the best preserved Arabian hammams in Spain. Here too you will of course find the recognizable Moorish style, with the star-shaped light and air holes in the domed ceilings as a highlight.
Ronda offers many more attractions, such as some museums and a bullfighting arena. But above all, Ronda offers the ultimate experience of Spain. It is beautiful every season, especially in the fall and spring, when the surrounding mountains are in bloom. You can fly for a few tens from Eindhoven Airport to Malaga; from there it is just over an hour and a half drive to what I think is one of the most beautiful historic towns in Europe.
Ronda at night
Tip: Make sure you book at least one overnight stay and wait until the large groups of tourists leave the city in the evening. Then peace returns to the city and it becomes a lovely, romantic and sleepy town. The tapas restaurants fill up with locals and the narrow streets in the old town are beautifully lit. Red wine in hand, a dish of tapas in front of you and enjoy. Romántico!