11 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Ronda
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Perched on a plateau overlooking a sheer cliff, Ronda epitomizes the drama of Andalusia. The setting is truly spectacular, and the culture (famed for bullfighting and bandits) is just as exciting. Ernest Hemingway set some scenes of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls in Ronda, immortalizing the special aura of this place.
The most amazing site is the Puente Nuevo bridge, which straddles the Tajo de Ronda, a 100-meter-deep gorge that is classified as a Monumento Natural de Andalucía (Natural Monument of Andalusia). Another top Ronda attraction is the Plaza de Toros, Spain's second oldest bullring, which is still used to stage bullfights.
Tourists will also be enchanted by the quaint old streets and whitewashed buildings of La Ciudad, the old Moorish town. Ronda's exotic heritage is also on display at the Museum of Bandits and the ancient Arab Baths along the Arroyo de las Culebras (Snakes' Stream).
Learn about the best places to visit in this breathtaking city with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Ronda.
1. Puente Nuevo (New Bridge)
The Puente Nuevo is the most emblematic monument of Ronda. Built in 1788, the bridge is a feat of engineering and a masterpiece of stone masonry. The 70-meter-long bridge crosses the Tajo de Ronda gorge at its narrowest point and reaches a height of 98 meters from the bottom of the ravine.
The bridge connects La Cuidad, the historic old Moorish town of Ronda, with El Mercadillo (Market Quarter), the "modern" part of town. From the bridge, the views of the gorge and the Río Guadalevín are stunning.
Tourists can also get a great view of the Puente Nuevo by walking along the trails within the Tajo de Ronda. The main path takes a zigzag course (a 30-minute walk) to the lower mills. A side path on the right (a 20-minute walk) travels through a small Moorish gate, the Arco Arabe, to the upper mills. From either path, hikers are rewarded with gorgeous views of the waterfalls and the Puente Nuevo.
Adventurous travelers will enjoy exploring the Tajo de Ronda on a Ronda Gorge buggy trip. Participants are provided with self-driving 4x4 buggies for a thrilling 15-mile guided tour of the canyon's rugged terrain; refreshments and photo ops are included.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ronda
2. Plaza de Toros
The second oldest bullfighting ring in Spain, the Plaza de Toros is a living testament to the region's most famous custom. Ronda was the home of the Romero dynasty of matadors (Francisco, Juan, and Pedro), who developed the rules of the present-day bullfight in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This site is the main tourist attraction in El Mercadillo and was immortalized by Hemingway in his novel Death in the Afternoon. The Mercadillo quarter is separated from La Cuidad (the old Moorish town) by the Tajo de Ronda canyon.
Built in 1785, the Plaza de Toros is a monumental bullring with a 66-square-meter arena and two tiers of arcaded galleries for seating spectators. The covered galleries feature elegant arches of Tuscany columns, as well as Royal Box Seats.
The Plaza de Toros no longer hosts bullfights, except once a year during the Feria de Pedro Romana festival in September. The festival (also called the Feria Goyesca) includes parties, a costumed parade, music concerts, and fireworks. The festival's highlight is a traditional bullfight called the Corrida Goyesca in which the matador wears an ornate costume of the Goya era (late 18th century).
The Plaza de Toros bullring is part of the Real Maestranza de Caballería (Royal School of Cavalry) and is open to the public for visits year-round every day. The Real Maestranza de Caballería site includes the bullring, the Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum), a Riding School, the Royal Harness and Livery Collection, a gift shop, and a cafeteria.
Address: Real Maestranza de Caballería, Calle Virgen de la Paz, Ronda
Official site: http://www.rmcr.org/es/english.html
3. Baños Árabes (Moorish Baths)
A hidden treasure of Ronda, these 13th- to 15th-century thermal baths are considered the best-preserved Moorish Baths in Spain. The Baños Arabes are near the Puente Viejo in the Barrio de San Miguel just outside of La Cuidad.
The baths were built along the Arroyo de las Culebras (Snakes' Stream), a source of spring water, which has a perfectly preserved water wheel from the Moorish era.
Similar to ancient Roman baths, the complex has cold, warm, and hot baths (the heating system was entirely hydraulic). However, the architecture exemplifies Moorish design with a central hall and two other sections separated by the characteristic Islamic-style horseshoe-shaped arches. The barrel-vaulted ceiling features beautiful star-shaped skylights.
The baths are no longer in use, but the site is open to the public for visits.
Address: Calle Molino de Alarcón, Ronda
4. Alameda del Tajo
A beautiful 19th-century public park, the Alameda del Tajo is next to the Plaza de Toros overlooking the Tajo de Ronda gorge. Filled with towering pines, this lush and spacious park provides a welcome shady spot to relax on warm days.
Many local families take their evening stroll (paseo) at this park along the tranquil, tree-lined paths. A duck pond adds to the peaceful environment. Some areas of the park offer magnificent panoramic views of the Ronda landscapes.
The Alameda del Tajo is near two noteworthy hotels. The four-star Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria is found near the ledge of the plateau on the Calle Jerez.
Just a five-minute walk away from the park is the Parador de Ronda on the Plaza España. This stylish four-star hotel boasts spectacular views of the Tajo de Ronda canyon, along with wonderful amenities: an outdoor swimming pool, gardens, concierge services, and two gourmet restaurants.
5. La Casa del Rey Moro
The Casa del Rey Moro is an 18th-century mansion built on the site of a 14th-century Moorish water mine. Despite its name, which translates to "House of the Moorish King," the mansion was actually the residence of the aristocratic Salvatierra family and later the Duchess of Parcent who renovated the building in neo-Mudéjar style.
To find the gardens, take the flight of stairs decorated with ceramics. A breathtaking outdoor space on three tiers, the gardens were designed in 1912 by French landscape gardener Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier.
From the three garden terraces, visitors can admire sweeping views of Ronda's stunning natural landscape. The gardens also feature gushing fountains and soothing water lanes similar to the gardens of the Alhambra. Colorful flowers and ponds filled with water lilies add to the beauty.
A flight of 200 steps descends from the gardens through the rock to the Guadalevin River at the bottom of El Tajo gorge.
Currently, the Casa del Rey Moro is undergoing renovations and is not open to the public. However, the gardens are open to visitors year-round; entrance requires an admission fee.
Address: Calle Cuesta de Santo Domingo, Ronda
6. Museo Arqueológico Municipal
The Museo Arqueológico Municipal (Municipal Museum of Archaeology) is housed in the Palacio de Mondaragón. Dating to the 14th-century, this splendid palace blends Mudéjar and Renaissance architectural elements.
The museum itself contains exhibits that span prehistory through Roman times, focusing on those discoveries made in the region. Prehistoric sections explore the lives of cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers, as well as the early innovations of the first societies, from earthenware to metallurgy.
There is also a section dedicated to the first Iberian states and the later Roman influences, displaying many of the archaeological finds made in nearby Acinipo and Arunda. Exhibits display statues, coins, and other items.
Address: Plaza Mondragón, Ronda
Official site: www.museoderonda.es
7. Museo Lara
Located in the Casa Palacio de los Condes de las Conquistas in the Old Town, the Museo Lara is a history museum with an eclectic variety of specialized collections. There are rooms dedicated to antique scientific instruments, weapons, and clocks.
A particularly interesting exhibit focuses on the Holy Inquisition. The selection of artifacts represents various torture instruments, including hanging cages, an iron maiden, and a cradle of Judas. The Witchcraft exhibit showcases historic witchcraft practices and potions.
Address: 29 Calle Armiñán, Ronda
Official site: www.museolara.org
8. La Ciudad: The Old Moorish Town
The medieval Moorish town is the soul of Ronda with its historic squares, narrow pedestrian streets and charming whitewashed houses. La Cuidad has an Old World European charm combined with some of the ambience of a medina (walled town of North Africa). This is the area where tourists will find most of the town's cultural attractions.
On the picturesque Plaza de la Duquesa de Parcent, the Iglesia Santa María la Mayor is a church that was converted from a former Mosque. The church has preserved four of the Moorish domes, however the interior is Gothic with a Plateresque-style Capilla Mayor (chapel) added in Christian times. The sanctuary boasts exquisite Renaissance choir stalls and a Moorish mihrab (prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca).
To the west of Santa María la Mayor Church, at the edge of the plateau, is the Palacio de Mondragón, which houses the Municipal Museum of Archaeology. This Moorish and Renaissance-style palace once provided luxurious accommodations for the Catholic Monarchs.
Nearby is Casa Juan Bosco, a 20th-century palace set in beautiful gardens.
On the Calle Armiñán, the Museo del Bandolero (Museum of Bandits) illustrates the history of the 19th-century bandits who lived in the mountains around Ronda.
9. The Lower Bridges: Puente Viejo and Puente de San Miguel
Ronda's two lower bridges over the gorge are reached by taking Calle del Comandante Linares downhill and through an arched gateway. Here, stand the 16th-century Puente Viejo and the imposing Puente de San Miguel. The San Miguel Bridge is also known as the Roman Bridge, even though it was not built during the ancient Roman era.
The area around the lower bridges is popular with hikers and nature lovers. A walking trail through the gorge crosses the Puente de San Miguel. Cyclists can take a biking trail through the rugged landscape that winds up at the Puente Viejo.
10. Celebrating Heritage: Ronda's Annual Festivals
Celebrating Ronda's rural heritage, the Ronda Romantic festival continues the tradition of the Royal May Fair that began in 1509. Local farmers participate in agricultural demonstrations such as goat milking and exhibitions of livestock. The festival also includes equestrian shows, street performances, and live music concerts.
During the first week of September every year, the Feria de Pedro Romero enlivens the city with music, dancing, and singing in honor of Ronda's renowned matador Pedro Romero. The festival begins with a parade of women flamboyantly attired in authentic regional costumes and culminates with the Corrida Goyesca, a traditional bullfight.
The Fiesta de la Virgen de la Paz takes place every year on January 24th. This traditional religious festival includes a parade through the narrow streets of Ronda.
11. Iglesia de Santa María La Mayor
Located in the same square as Ronda's Town Hall (Plaza Duquesa de Parcent), this historic church is locally known as the Iglesia de Santa María de la Encarnación la Mayor. The church features many beautiful architectural details and artwork, as well as numerous artifacts and statues that are part of the annual Semana Santa celebrations.
The site has long been home to places of worship, beginning as a pre-Christian Roman altar, then a Visigoth church, later a Muslim mosque built in the 14th century, and then converted to a cathedral and added to in the late 15th century; most of what remains today was rebuilt after a major earthquake in 1580.
The Iglesia de Santa María La Mayor is open to the public for visits every day except Tuesday and Sunday. However, tourists should keep in mind that the opening hours are limited (10:30am until 2pm).
Address: Plaza Duquesa de Parcent, Ronda
Where to Stay in Ronda for Sightseeing
- The four-star Hotel Catalonia Ronda looks out onto the Plaza de Toros and is within easy walking distance of most tourist attractions. Guest rooms are modern, with suites and family rooms available; many rooms have views of the bullring. Hotel amenities include a rooftop swimming pool and hot tub, a full-service spa, fitness center, and room service.
- A romantic hotel with incredible views, the four-star Parador de Ronda sits atop the cliffs beside the Puente Nuevo. All rooms have private balconies; spacious suites feature enormous windows. The hotel has a traditional Andalusian restaurant and a more casual restaurant that serves cuisine of the Málaga region. Other amenities include gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a generous breakfast buffet.
- The Aire de Ronda Hotel is located close to Puente Viejo and Roman Bridge, as well as several other top attractions. Guest rooms in this historic building are tastefully decorated with modern decor and updated bathrooms. Some rooms have lounge areas and outdoor terraces. Amenities include a garden, sundeck, spa, restaurant, and complimentary breakfast. An airport transfer service is available.
- Travelers looking for a charming hotel experience will love the centrally located Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel, a four-star hotel in a renovated 18th-century palace. Guest rooms feature traditional architectural and decor elements such as antique furniture, hand-carved wooden accents, and decorative tiling in the bathrooms. The hotel also has a lovely courtyard, as well as a mini-cinema furnished with vintage red velvet theater seats.
- Affordable and stylish accommodations are available at the Hotel Colón, which is close to the Plaza de Toros and within a five-minute walk of over a dozen restaurants. This boutique hotel has rooms with small, quaint balconies. Amenities include a 24-hour front desk and complimentary breakfast.
- Just a 10- to 15-minute walk to Ronda's major tourist attractions, the two-star Hotel San Francisco - Ronda has modern and exceptionally clean rooms that are bright and cheerful. The hotel is wheelchair accessible, and offers a concierge, room service, and bicycle rentals. The hotel also has a coffee shop, as well as a sunny rooftop terrace.
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