Although Barcelona and Madrid are major tourist attractions, many people come to Spain to visit Andalusia, the southern area of the country that exudes the classic Spanish feel and old world charm. This area of Spain is also replete with rich history and beautiful architecture, which makes most Andalusian towns perfect for passing the time by simply wandering about and admiring the picturesque surroundings. One such quintessential, scenic Andalusian town is Ronda. The breathtaking mountains and canyons provide a beautiful venue to learn about this town’s rich history and literary connections.
The beautiful scenery of Ronda has inspired writers and artists for centuries
Ronda is located in Southern Spain, less than an hour from the coast and under two hours from the nearest large city, Malaga. It is reachable by train from Malaga, Cordoba, Madrid and Granada, and by bus from other Spanish cities. Ronda is known as “the City of Dreams” and is one of the oldest towns in Spain, with archeological evidence dating back to the Neolithic era. History in the more recent centuries has included Arab and Christian influence, and signs of both of these are evident in the town’s architecture and historical sites.
Aside from the well-known Spanish history of the power struggle over the centuries between Arabs and Christians, Ronda is rich in history of another type. Over its long past, many famous literary figures have drawn inspiration from visits to this beautiful town. Beginning with the viajeros románticos, or romance-era travelers, Ronda has captured the imagination of world-renowned literary talents since, including Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and Washington Irving. After spending a day enjoying Ronda’s ruggedly beautiful landscape, it’s easy for visitors to see why this place has served as such a strong inspiration for writers over the centuries.
The bridges spanning the El Tajo gorge provide magnificent views
The most iconic and stunning area of Ronda is the enormous El Tajo gorge that separates the Old City from the New City. Three bridges span this gorge, and the newest one contains the tiny Puente Nuevo Museum underneath it that guests can enter for only 2 EUR (2.27 USD).
Within this small space, visitors can learn about the history and construction of each of the bridges from informative displays in Spanish and English. However, perhaps the best value the 2 euros will grant visitors is the view from the small terrace of the museum, which looks directly down into the deep gorge below. Not recommended for those who fear heights, this area underneath the bridge will take any visitor’s breath away.
For brave hikers, the gorge can be viewed in all its glory from below
Washington Irving wrote about the beauty of this gorge in his journal back in 1828: “There has been a storm tonight, wind and rain. I look out the window and see the beautiful effect of the moonlight breaking through the fog on the bridge. Hanging white houses, which follow the river at the bottom of the abyss…” Today, visitors can visit the gorge and be awestruck by the same beauty that this literary giant was almost two centuries ago.
For visitors who have more of a daring streak, there is also a path that winds down into the heart of the gorge. It is unpaved and very steep, so children and people with limited physical fitness should not attempt the fairly strenuous hike. However, those who are up to the challenge will be rewarded with incredible views of the canyon walls and the bridge from below.
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Historical activities plus classic Spanish food, drink and shops will complete your visit
There is more to the small town of Ronda than the magnificent scenery. Ronda is also home to a handful of attractions, most with strong historical connections. Guests can visit the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, which has a small museum attached; entrance is 7 EUR (7.93 USD). Ronda is also home to historical landmarks dating back to Spain’s Arab influence. The Arab Baths are beautifully conserved and worth a visit, costing only 3 EUR (3.40 USD) to enter.
Passes can be purchased for admittance to the Baths, the architecturally noteworthy Mondragon Palace, and other culturally significant monuments and museums for 10 EUR (11.33 USD) per person. Aside from these attractions, Ronda is simply a lovely and charming town to wander. Guests can enjoy the classic Spanish atmosphere, browse Spanish souvenirs, and sample delicious regional tapas in any of the numerous small bars and restaurants in the area.
Let yourself be swept away by the culture, history, and magnificent views of Ronda
No matter how you spend your day in Ronda, whether you trek down into the gorge to take a winning photo, spend hours learning about the history of the town from its museums and monuments, or simply stroll around and soak up the atmosphere, you will leave with a strong sense of the quaint Andalusian feel that draws so many visitors to this area. Despite its many visitors, Ronda lacks the crowds and over-commercialized tourist feel, and there are no enormous hotels or chain restaurants to mar the perfect, scenic landscape. A visit to Ronda will make you feel as if you’ve left the modern world behind, and you’ll be swept away by the rich history and stunning views of this charming Spanish town.
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