Ronda (Spain) is one of those small cities you may or may not have heard of before your trip to Spain. If you are a literature fan, you may have heard of Hemingway’s and Orson Welles’ many summers in this beautiful place. However, if you aren’t, don’t despair. Despite its under 40.000 inhabitants, this small city has already found its way into the hearts of many visitors on its own terms
In a breath-taking location, Ronda stands at about 750 meters above sea level, divided in two by river Guadalevin, surrounded by the rolling hills of Sierra de Grazalema, in the region of Málaga. The affordable high-quality leather goods produced in the region are an attractive enticement for many. For others, it’s the medieval and Moorish historic sites. All in all, Ronda seems to have something for all. Who would have thought! During our amazing 8-day road trip we discovered how incredible this small city really is. And these are our top things to do in Ronda (Spain).
Take a Stroll Through the Old Town
Ronda’s old town with its Moorish origins is a quaint delicacy for those who love a good stroll. With architectonic jewels left and right, you’ll love getting lost in this labyrinth of narrow passageways and alleys. With a delightful surprise around every corner, adventuring around the old town of Ronda is a must see in the Southern-Spanish city.
If you came to the old town via the Puente Nuevo take the alley to your right and follow along the cliff. This way you’ll find the stunning Palacio de Mondragón. Dated by experts back to the early 1300s this palace and its gardens has been home to kings and governors, and seen the birth of the golden era in Ronda.
Its impressive Moorish gardens are a delight to explore and remain as they were back in the day. There can also be found a water garden, a replica of the one found in the Alhambra in Granada.
Currently, the Mondragon Palace houses a museum and can be visited.
Mon – Fri from 9 AM to 7 PM
Weekend and Holidays 10 AM to 3 PM
Reduced: 1.5€ (for ground of 10 or more people, and children)
Latitude: 36.737775 (36° 44′ 15.99” N)
Longitude: -5.166643 (5° 9′ 59.91” W)
Check Out the Many Viewpoints
From the many viewpoints around Ronda, you’ll get the most incredible views over the valley and tajo gorge, and other stunning areas around the city. Some of the best viewpoints (miradores) are:
Alameda Park and Mirador del Coño
Given the city’s location, it is no surprise that the Parque de la Alameda del Tajo is one of the only few parks in Ronda. A beloved area of the city by locals and visitors alike, this park provides a relaxing oasis with stunning views over the gorge at a very short distance from the main attractions. The main viewpoint here, the mirador del coño is more than worth a visit, in spite of its (potentially) offensive name.
While doing some research about the origin of the name, I came across the following:
Unfortunately the name isn’t translatable without causing some offense, but if you imagine a person arriving at the balcony, looking down 150m and exclaiming “Ayy, coño!” and then stepping back rather quickly you might understand its meaning.Source: Ronda Today
Jardín and Mirador de Cuenca
Spanning all across town from Puente Nuevo and Puente Viejo are the Cuenca Gardens and viewpoint. These gardens were built on the cliff and are formed by several terreaces along the lenth of the park, and the views from each and every one of the platforms is jawdropping.
Mirador de Aldehuela
Another, equally stunning vewpoint in Ronda is the Mirador de Aldehuela. Named after the architecht behind the Puente Nuevo, this viewpoint is a prime spot to get amazing views over the famous bridge. If you follow along you will find a path, tho beware as there are quite a lot of steps.
Mirador Puente Nuevo de Ronda
An lastly, a bit further out of the main city, you’ll find the Mirador Puente Nuevo de Ronda, which similarly to the Mirador de la Aldehuela provides incredible views over the bridge. This time from further down, thus being the perfect spot for those stunning shots of the bridge.
Which brings me to the next point on the things to see in Ronda…
The three bridges that connect the different parts of Ronda to one another are one of the many sights worth seeing while in Ronda. They all have different characters and the views over the
Puente Romano or Puente de San Miguel
Puente Viejo o Puente árabe
The “Old Bridge or Arab Bridge” is the oldest of the three bridges in Ronda. Its origin is controversial but from the few records found, it was probably built by the Arabs, and re-built in 1616 after being destroyed by a flood. This bridge would connect the city to the market neighbourhood.
The newest of the three, “New Bridge”, which is actually over 200 years old -finished in 1793- is the one that will delight your eyes with the most stunning views over the Guadalevin gorge. 120m above the river bed, this bridge took 42 years to build. If you are adventurous like us, you can take a stroll down to the bridge’s machinery, or even further down to the river. But make sure to wear appropriate shoes as it may be a bit slippery.
La Casa y Minas del Rey Moro
It isn’t actually a Moorish King’s house, as it was built sometime in the 18th century. What makes a visit to this place worth it is the water mine. In the 14th century, Ronda was in the line of fire between the Christians from Seville and the Moors from Granada. Often besieged, the starting point was to cut the water supply. To avoid being left with no water, it is said that king Abomelik, with the “help” of Christian captives, carved steps on the stone of this cave to allow for them to get water from the river Guadalevin. Heavily damaged, the original 360 steps-stair had to be restored. Even tho now there’re fewer steps than originally built, it’s still a challenge for those with less training, so take it easy on your way up!
Important to note that the Palace itself is closed to visitors but the gardens and the mines are open and a must see in Ronda. Tickets cost around 5€ per person.
The Old Arabic Walls and City Gates
Spread all over the city, the Old Arabic Walls are a must see while in Ronda. But if you’ve just come out of the Moorish King’s House, you can just head down towards the old jewish quarter and the Arab Baths. Dating back to the Islamic era (712 – 1485), these walls in combination with the gorge, made of Ronda an impugnable city. The one exception would be the jewish quarter, which was located outside the original location, making it a bit more sensitive to attack and requiring an extra set of wall. There are few remains of that quarter in comparison to the rest of Ronda. Thankfully, the Arab baths survived.
If you continue down the road from the Old Arabic Walls and City Gates, you’ll come to the Arab Baths. Built around the 11th or 12th century, these seem to be one of the best-preserved remains of an Arab Hammam in Spain. Carefully restored and handsomely conservated, these ruins gather to this day the splendour of the Moorish kingdom of Ronda. Despite being located outside the defensive walls of the city, it is believed that these were the main Ronda baths during quieter times.
Autumn and Winter
Mon – Fri: 10 AM to 6 PM
Weekend / Public Holidays: 10 AM to 3 PM
Spring and Summer
Mon – Fri: 10 AM to 7 PM
Weekend / Public Holiday: 10 AM to 3 PM
Reduced: 1.5€ (for ground of 10 or more people, and children)
Free on Sundays
Latitude: 36.738893 (36° 44′ 20.01” N)
Longitude: -5.162914 (5° 9′ 46.49” W)
The Riding School (The Bullfighting Ring)
Inaugurated in 1785, Ronda’s Bullfighting Ring is one of the oldest in Spain. Now principally used as a museum, with the exception of the Corridas Goyescas every September. But within the walls of the Plaza, is the world renowned (among horseback riding lovers at least) Real Maestranza de Equitación de Ronda (The Royal Cavalry of Ronda). Dating back to 1573 is the oldest known brotherhood, and a stunning sight if you catch the youngsters training in the paddock. If not, well, you’ll have plenty of time to read about the evolution of the Spanish (Andalusian) horses, the Spanish step, and how it all started.
As an interesting fact, while there, we learnt that the origins of Bullfighting weren’t as it is today. Nothing to do with show and glitter. It was a training technique for the cavalry when these were not yet fully developed to their full potential. They would train with bulls as a way to learn to fight against unpredictable opponents. Over time, it evolved to what we know now.
Placa de los Viajeros Romanticos
Last but not least, right where the Puente Nuevo and the old town meet, you’ll find the Placa de los viajeros romanticos. A collection of ceramic tiles commemorating Ronda’s Romantic famous visitors. A sweet gesture to end a wonderful visit.
After just a couple of days in Ronda, we were left wanting more. But for 48 hours in the Sierra de Grazalema, these top things to see in Ronda will keep you entertained. Have you ever been to Ronda? What would you recommend for my next visit? Let me know in the comments below!