"City of Legends"
Only an hour away from Cortijo Valverde, Ronda is one of the loveliest and most famous towns in Andalucía. Steeped in history, it stands on a towering plateau, a mighty outcrop, which made it impregnable to the Christian armies until the very last years of the re-conquest. In the mountains of Málaga province and is famous throughout Spain for the plunging river gorge which divides the town into two sections - medieval and 18th century.
This gorge is known as ‘El Tajo’ –The Cliff - and is spanned by a stone bridge. ‘Puente Nuevo’ or New Bridge is the chief landmark for all visitors and was once housed a prison with regular summary judgments being order of the day! The first attempt to build the bridge took place in 1735, it consisted of a thirty-five metre diameter arch and was completed in just eight months. Unfortunately, this bridge collapsed, killing more than fifty people. The New Bridge is, together with the bullring, the symbol and soul of the city. The new structure begun in 1751 and was finished in 1793 to coincide with the celebrations of the Royal May Fair of Ronda. The executive chief architect was José Martín de Aldehuela from Manzanera. This bridge is ninety-eight metres high and was built with stone taken from the depths of the Tajo gorge. This majestic monument also contains an information centre for visitors.
The quarter to the North of the gorge is known as El Mercadillo, with the Plaza de España, the site of Ronda’s recently built Parador, the spectacular walkway along the river gorge with superb views of the countryside below. This walkway leads to Ronda’s lovely ‘Mirador’, with colourful flowerbeds and a railing for sightseers to lean against as they gaze into the distance. You can walk from the Plaza de España up the Calle Nueva, Ronda’s pedestrian shopping district, where some of the shops still retain their traditional appearance and style. The Palace of Mondragon, also known as Palace of the Marquis of Villasierra, is another wonderful example of local architecture and is the most significant civil monument of Ronda. Legend tells us that it was formerly home to the great king Abbel Malik or Abomelic, son of the Moroccan sultan Abul Asan. It is also known that the last Arab governor, Hamet el Zegrí also lived at this palace.
Ronda is most famous for its bullring, the oldest and most beautiful one in Spain; the arena itself is also the country’s largest. When there are no fights, the bullring is open to visitors, and has a fascinating museum with many mementos of Spain’s most renowned bullfighters. Ronda is located 50 km – about one hour’s drive - from San Pedro de Alcántara on the coast. The road winds up through the mountains of the Sierra Bermeja, and then descends into the Serrania de Ronda and the town itself. One of the most charming and fascinating towns in Andalucía, it is very popular with day-trippers from the Costa del Sol and has a wide range of cafés and restaurants. However, it retains all of its traditional charm and languid atmosphere.