Ronda is a town in Malaga in Spain. Set in and around a deep gorge spanned by an impressive bridge, the relaxing atmosphere here is a great break from some of the more tourist-ridden places on the south coast of Spain, however it can still be packed with day-trippers from the Costa del Sol, especially during the peak summer months.
Ronda was first settled by the early Celts, and later inhabited by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. The Moors left an indelible imprint in the city, which only fell to the Christian reconquista in 1485. In more recent times, the town has hosted a number of well-known writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, James Joyce, and the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Ronda is divided into three neighbourhoods: the more modern Mercadillo, with the bus and train stations and other services; La Ciudad, the old Moorish quarter which has been largely preserved; and the Barrio de San Francisco. The town makes a good base for outdoor pursuits, including hiking, canoeing and river kayaking, and mountain biking.
- 1 Tourist Information Office (Oficina Municipal de Turismo de Ronda), Paseo Blas Infante, s/n, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-18:00/19:00 (winter/summer), Sa 10:00-14:00, 15:00-17:00, Su and holidays 10:00-14:30. Can help with accommodation and offer suggestions for sightseeing. Has hiking maps for sale, and bus and train schedules are posted in the window.
- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls. The execution scene in Chapter 10 is based upon events which took place in Ronda during the Spanish Civil War.
- 2 Ronda Raiway Station, Avenida de la Victoria, 31 (approx 900 m NE from the centre), ☏ . M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa Su and holidays 07:00-21:00. There are direct connections by train with Algeciras, Malaga, Antequera, Granada, Cordoba and Madrid. Timetables and ticket information are available online.
A taxi from the train station to the quarter of La Ciudad should cost about €7, or it takes about 20 minutes to reach it on foot.
- 3 Bus Station, Calle Comandante Salvador Carrasco (approx 400 m west from the railway station along the Avenida de Andalusia). Five companies offer service to Ronda. From Málaga the easiest access is by bus, with Los Amorillos buses costing around €10 and taking about two hours. A comprehensive bus schedule for all lines can be downloaded here.
From Marbella on the Costa del Sol, the scenic road A-376 leads through the mountains north. Plan on 1-1½ hours for the 43-km journey, which after many hairpin curves reaches an elevation of 1,125 m before descending to Ronda. At the highest point is a monument to the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in the form of a stone memorial with a stylized pen nib.
For a scenic route from Seville, head south on A-376 to Utrera, and then take A-375 to Puerta Serrana, and A-384/374 further on to Ronda.
From Jerez de la Frontera, take A-382 west to Arcos de la Frontera, continue on A-384 past the exit to Puerta Serrana and Seville, and pick up A-374 to Ronda.
Distances to Ronda: Madrid 612 km, Algecoras 100 km, Cadiz 150 km
Ronda is a small town, both easily and best navigated on foot.
While driving in by car may be interesting - once within Ronda - park it! Ronda is difficult to navigate by car, especially in the older quarters. In some parts - non-resident cars aren't even allowed to use the streets! There are two reasonably convenient public car parks in the Mercadillo: an underground garage beneath the 4 Plaza del Socorro; and another 5 car park on Avenida Poeta Rilke, north of the bull ring.
- 1 Puente Nuevo. This large and incredible bridge over the Tajo gorge, finished in 1793, is Ronda's principal attraction. The bridge is 70 m long and 98 m high, equivalent to a 30-floor building, and connects the quarter of La Ciudad with the Mercadillo. It was built following the collapse of an earlier bridge from 1735; this bridge had a single arch of 35m but collapsed six years after construction, killing 50 people. There are beautiful views from here of the Sierra de Grazalema to the west. A small museum is inside.
- 2 Plaza de Toros, Calle Virgen de la Paz, 15, ☏ (tickets), fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Nov-Feb 10:00-18:00, Mar 10:00-19:00, Apr-Sep 10:00-20:00, Oct 10:00-19:00; closed on bullfighting days in September. The oldest and one of the most highly regarded of Spain's bull rings, built in 1785 in the neoclassical style. This is considered to be the cradle of modern Spanish bullfighting, where Pedro Romero (1754-1839) developed a new style of fighting bulls on foot (and not from horseback as had been done previously); he also was the first to begin using a red cloth. Romero retired after he had killed 5000 bulls and remained uninjured. His son and grandson carried on the tradition. €6.50, €8 (with audioguide).
- Also located inside is a bullfighting museum.
- 3 Parque Alameda (near the bull ring). A nice park with shady trees and ample walking space. You can see wonderful panoramas from the viewing platforms.
The old district of Ronda, beyond the new bridge. Full of twisting, narrow streets.
- 4 Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor (Church of Santa Maria la Mayor). M-Sa 10:00-19:00; Su 10:00-12:30, 14:00-19:00. This is most important church in Ronda, built after the reconquista on the site of town's former principal Moorish mosque, with construction lasting from 1485 until the end of the 17th century. The only features remaining from the mosque are the arch of the mirhab and a section of its wall covered with stucco, both hidden behind the retable of the main altar; additionally the former minaret was converted to the bell tower. This is a Gothic-style church that, inside, has elements of the Baroque and Rococo, as the church was partly rebuilt following the earthquake of 1580. The walnut and cedar choir seating dates from the Renaissance period. An unusual feature is a balcony on the front side of the church which faces the Ayuntamiento (city hall). €4 (adults), €3 (seniors), €2 (children under 10/Ronda residents).
- 5 Iglesia de Espíritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit). M-Sa 10:00-14:00. Construction of this church began in 1485 and was completed 20 years later. The church has a nave with three vaults, and from the outside has the appearance of a fortification. €1 (adults and children over 10), free (children under 10).
- 6 Palacio de Mondragón (Museo Municipal), Plaza de Mondragón, 5, ☏ . M-F 10:00-19:00, Sa Su 10:00-15:00. A former Moorish palace with beautiful courtyards, a terrace, and a fantastic view. Today it houses a small museum dedicated to the history of the town. €3.
- 7 Puente Viejo (Old Bridge), Calle Molino de Alarcón. This small bridge was the means of crossing the Tajo before the completion of the newer, larger one.
- 8 Arco de Felipe V (Arch of Philip V), Calle Real. A beautiful arch, named for Phillip the Fifth.
- 9 Baños Árabes (Arab Baths), Cuesta de Santo Domingo. M-F 10:00-19:00, Sa Su 10:00-15:00. A 13th-century Moorish public bathhouse, considered to be one of the best-preserved in Spain. The vaulting is particularly noteworthy. €3, free on Mondays.
- 10 Museo de Peinado (Palacio de Moctezuma), Calle de San Juan Bosco, 78 (Plaza del Gigante), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa and holidays 10:00-15:00; closed 25 Dec, 1 Jan and 6 Jan. Joaquin Peinade was born in 1898 in Ronda and died in 1975 in Paris. Artistically he was a descendant of Cézanne and spiritual son of Picasso, and he is often described as the most elegant of the painters from the so-called 'Spanish School' of Paris. Paintings from the painter's career, which spanned from 1923-1974 are on display. The collection includes more than 190 pieces, including some lesser-known works from the painter's private collection. Particularly noteworthy paintings include Still Life with Pears, Figure with Dove, Fruit Basket, and Female Nude. The museum is housed in a palace named after the last Aztec king, in the center of La Ciudad. The building from the 19th century has mixed architectural influences, and both courtyards are worth looking at. €4 (adults), €2 (seniors/students), free (children under 14); free on Tu afternoons.
- 11 Museo Lara, Calle Armiñán, 29, ☏ . Nov-May daily 11:00-19:00, Jun-Oct 11:00-20:00. Recently opened following the initiative of Juan Lara Jurado, this museum houses a collection of more than 2000 works of art and antiquities. It is the largest private museum in Andalusia. €4 (adults), €2 (students/seniors/Ronda residents).
- 12 Museo Bandolero (Museum of Bandits), Calle Armiñan, 65, ☏ . Daily including holidays: autumn/winter 11:00-19:00, spring/summer 11:00-20:30. The only museum in Spain devoted to the history of bandits (bandoleros), which were widespread throughout the region in the 19th century. €3.75 (adults), €2.80 (seniors/students/youth card).
- 13 Puerta de Almocábar. Ronda's primary Moorish gate separates La Ciudad from the Barrio de San Francisco. There are a couple sets of stairs leading to the top of the wall and to the watchtowers, which offer great views of the surrounding area. Free.
- 14 Casa del Gigante (Giant's House), Plaza del Gigante, 5. So-named for the stone figure placed at the corner. The house dates from the 14 and 15th centuries, and has a number of Moorish architectural elements, including horseshoe arches, ornate stucco work, and decorative wooden ceilings. The building has been carefully restored and is open to the public.
- 15 Palacio del Marqués de Salvatierra (Palace of the Marquis of Salvatierra), Calle Real, 2. A Renaissance mansion with an unusual façade of four Peruvian Indians. The building is still a private residence and is not open to the public, but can be viewed from the outside.
- 16 Casa de San Juan Bosco (Casa Don Bosco), Calle Tenorio, 20. Built in the early 20th century and accessed via a tiled entryway, the house contains a large collection of regional ceramics as well as 19th-century tapestries. A landscaoed terrace provides wonderful views of the gorge and the Puente Nuevo. Entry fee.
- 1 Interpretation Center of Ronda Wine, Calle Gonzalez Campos, 2, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 10:00-20:00. Old winery and now a museum of wine, offering wine tastings and vineyard tours. €4-10.
- 2 La Casa Del Rey Moro (Palace of the Moorish King), Calle de Santo Domingo, 9 (cross the famous bridge into La Cuidad, take the first proper street to the left; La Casa is on the left), ☏ . Pretty gardens and a castle undergoing renovation. The main attraction, however, is the water mine – underground steps leading all the way down to the bottom of the gorge.
- Feria de Pedro Romero (Festival of Pedro Romero). Beginning of September. Celebrated with parades and bullfights.
- Hiking. There are a number of hiking trails around Ronda, including eight with trailheads beginning in Ronda. The tourist information office carries maps and trail descriptions for €1/trail; alternatively their website has a comprehensive list of routes with GPS coordinates and trail descriptions available for free download. One of the most popular routes is Route 3 (SL-A 38), which descends to the bottom of the Tajo Gorge passing by several excellent viewpoints of the Puente Nuevo. (A word of caution is advised, though, as if there is an extended dry spell, the gorge can stink because sewage is still released into the river.)
Ronda is noted for distinctive white enamelled ceramic, which is used for everyday domestic ware. There are plenty of ATMs dotted about the Mercadillo, or the main commercial district.
- Carretera Espinel (Calle la Bola). The main pedestrian shopping street, stretching from the bullring to Avenida Málaga. Shops here cater not only to tourists but also the town's inhabitants, and you can find everything here to meet your daily needs for reasonable prices. (Trivia: "La bola" means "ball" in Spanish; the street earned its nickname when, after a heavy snowfall, a group of citizens rolled a large snowball down its slope.)
Avoid the restaurants in the tourist area during the day, as they are overpriced and often only full of other tourists! Look for smaller cafes and bars. A quick breakfast usually consists of toast (pan tostada) and coffee (cafe con leche – coffee with milk; be sure to add the pack of sugar always served with it for a real treat.) If you are looking for an inexpensive snack or lunch, any bar will be able to make you a sandwich (bocadillo) with your choice of ham, cheese, or tomato. Also, look for bakeries (pastelerias), as Spain has some of the finest pastries around.
- 2 Cafe Bar Bodega San Francisco, Plaza Ruedo Alameda, 32 (Barrio de San Francisco), ☏ . M-W F-Su 11:00-01:00. Good place for eating authentic Andalusian food, just outside the ancient walls of the old town.
- 3 Patatín-Patatán, Calle Lorenzo Borrego, 7 (Mercadillo, near E side of Plaza Socorro), ☏ . M Tu Th-Su 11:00-16:00, 19:00-23:00. A popular family-run tapas bar with good seafood and chorizo.
- 4 Restaurante Don Javier, Calle Virgen de la Paz, 7 (Mercadillo), ☏ .
- 5 Restaurante Don Miguel, Plaza de España, 4-5 (Mercadillo, Plaza de España), ☏ . Has a number of tables on the terrace with views of the bridge.
Near Ronda, high quality wines are produced in small wineries. Also you can find "Anis del Tajo".
- 1 Huskies Sport Bar, Calle Molino, 1, ☏ . This bar is run by a man who used to live in America and it's decently priced and has a good atmosphere.
There are plenty of hotels in the area of town tourists are likely to want to stay, on some streets it looks like more of the buildings are hotels than are not.
- 1 Hostal Doña Carmen, Calle Naranja, 28 (Mercadillo), ☏ . €20+/singles.
- 2 Hostal Ronda Sol, Calle de la Almendra, 11 (La Ciudad), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00-, check-out: 08:00-12:00. A family-run place; the mother of the family at least speaks fluent French as well as Spanish. €17/singles, €29/doubles; all rooms have shared bathroom.
- 3 Hotel Andalucía, Avda Martínez Astein, 19 (Mercadillo, across from the train station), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00-21:00, check-out: 12:00. Free Wi-Fi, baggage storage. €22+/singles, €30+/doubles, €4 for breakfast.
- 4 Hotel Morales, Calle Sevilla, 51 (Mercadillo), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 13:00-20:00, check-out: 08:00-12:00. Free Wi-Fi, bicycles available for rent. €35+.
- 5 [dead link] Hotel Acinipo, Paseo Blas Infante (near the bullring in the Mercadillo), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Has an onsite restaurant and non-smoking rooms. Free Wi-Fi, luggage storage available. €50+/doubles.
- 6 Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria, Calle Jerez, 25 (Mercadillo), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A large hotel on the edge of the cliff, with great views. Free wi-fi, gym, pool, breakfast, restaurant on-site. €65+.
- 7 Hotel Enfrente Arte Ronda, Calle Real, 42 (Mercadillo), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This hotel is almost entirely designed with recycled materials. Free wi-fi. €80-105 including breakfast.
- 8 Hotel Maestranza, Calle Virgen de la Paz, 24-26 (Mercadillo, across from the bullring), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Has onsite restaurant/bar, free wi-fi. €66+/doubles.
- 9 Hotel Ronda, Calle Ruedo Doña Elvira, 12 (La Ciudad), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Formerly a family home, this has been remodeled into a tasteful and quiet five-room hotel a short walk from the Puente Nuevo. Free wi-fi, breakfast included. €60+/doubles.
- 10 Hotel El Tajo, Calle Cruz Verde, 7 (Mercadillo), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Has on-site restaurant and bar, free Wi-Fi. €35+/singles, €50+/doubles; breakfast included.
- 11 Hotel Molino del Arco, artido de los Frontones (10km north of Ronda), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00-, check-out: 08:00-12:00. Has onsite restaurant/bar, swimming pool, rents bicycles. €80+/doubles.
- 12 Hotel Montelirio, Calle Tenorio, 8 (La Ciudad), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. In the old town with a view of the Puente Nuevo from most of the rooms. €87-130.
- 13 Parador de Ronda, Plaza de España (Mercadillo), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In a location with direct views over the gorge and the Puente Nuevo. Has swimming pool and onsite restaurant. Free Wi-Fi. €120+.
- 14 [dead link] Finca Parchite, Crta. Campillos, km 32.5 (13 km N of Ronda), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
Ronda is a district hub for the bus services to other pueblo blanco towns and villages such as Montejaque, Benaojan and Zahara la Sierra. Most of these villages have at least one weekday service, while others have up to three services a day.
- 17 Cueva de Pileta (Cave of the Pool) (Benaojan, 17 km SW of Ronda off of highway A-376), ☏ . Oct-Mar: daily 10:00-13:00, 16:00-17:00; Apr-Sep: daily 10:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. This cave, discovered in 1905, has a number of cave paintings dating from the Neolithic period. Tours are available upon arrival, and last about one hour. Warm dress and sturdy shoes are recommended; no cameras or cell phones permitted. €8 adults, €5 children 5-10.
- 18 Acinipo (20km N of Ronda: take Hwy A-376, then MA-449). Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 09:00-14:00. The remains of a Roman city, destroyed in 429 CE by the Vandals. The site includes the remains of a Roman theatre as well as Roman baths. Free.