Ronda is a magical little town balanced on the edge of an escarpment in the Málaga province.
Within the old citadel, there are lots of intriguing fragments of Ronda’s 700-year occupation by the Moors to be discovered, and Ronda is also the Costa del Sol’s top wine town, with more than 20 wineries open for visits in the local countryside.
Ronda is steeped in dark myths and bullfighting folklore, whilst boasting one of the most extraordinary locations in Spain, it is a small wonder that Ronda has become Andalusia’s third most visited town.
Here are 10 must-sees for your trip to Ronda
1. Puente Nuevo
Offering unforgettable views over the El Tajo gorge is one of southern Spain’s most famous attractions, Ronda’s epic Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge. Puente Nuevo spans the 328-feet-deep El Tajo gorge, linking El Mercadillo (The Little Market), the newer part of town, with La Ciudad (The Town), the old Moorish quarter. For just 2.50 euros you can visit the museum in a little stone-walled cavern in the middle of the bridge, which was used as a prison throughout the 19th century and during Spain’s Civil War of 1936-39 which it is said was loosely based on events in Ronda, see Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.
2. Plaza de Toros – The Bullring
A brief walk from the Puente Nuevo is Ronda’s neoclassical Plaza de Toros, built in the late-18th century and considered to be one of the birthplaces of modern bullfighting.
Ronda is said to be the home of modern-day bullfighting. The Plaza de Toros ring can hold up to 5000 spectators. This sport is, of course, a touchy subject, but it’s still an indelible part of Andalusian culture.
The arena was founded by the Royal Cavalry of Ronda, which still exists, and there’s a museum about this institution underneath one of the tiers. To go with it there’s also an exhibition about the history of bullfighting.
Outside the town is the Reservatauro Ronda, where bulls are bred and raised in an idyllic landscape of meadows and holm oaks.
Opened in 1785, Ronda’s stately bullring is now used just once a year for the exclusive annual bullfight of the town’s September Feria. It was on the pale sands of this historic arena that a new kind of bullfighting was forged by Francisco Romero in the 18th century.
3. The Arabic Baths
The Arabic baths in Ronda are the best preserved in Spain. They were situated outside the old city walls, near to one of Ronda’s original bridges, the Puente Arabe. The baths are so well preserved partly because, as was often the case, the baths were adapted, as a tannery that made use of the boiler room.
Despite previous adaptation, the cold, warm, and hot rooms are all still there, under barrel-vaulted ceilings with openings in the shape of stars. You can see how they were heated, and the intricate system that drew water from the Las Culebreas stream to the complex.
These baths were in the poorer part of the town and had a religious role as they were next door to a mosque so that worshippers could perform their ablutions here.
Ronda is part of the Sierras de Málaga and the high elevations bring a climate allowing a wide variety of grapes to flourish, creating awarding-winning Crianza, Tinto Joven, and Blanco Joven wines.
Ronda was only officially recognized in 2000 for his wine culture but is growing all the time in notoriety. The official wine route of Ronda now takes in 21 wineries, so if you’re into wine and viticulture Ronda could be the stepping stone for a holiday to remember.
Some, like Chinchilla, schedule half-day courses so you can get intimate knowledge about the process and subtle flavors. As well as pairing delicious wines with tapas, you’ll appreciate the majestic landscapes here, where most vineyards are planted at well over 750 meters.
The locals of Ronda love to eat, drink and socialize as much as any of their Andalusian neighbors, meaning there is a huge choice of places to take refreshment in between exploring El Tajo or learning about the bulls. Here’s a recommended wine route in and around Ronda and for something that is right on the city’s doorstep, a visit to the Descalzos Viejos winery is a great way to spend the morning.