Ronda, Spain is the largest and one of the most famous of the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) in Spain’s Malaga Province and sits dramatically atop a mountain high above a deep gorge. At the bottom of this gorge is the Guadalevin river which separates the 15th century “new” town from the old town, which dates back to Moorish rule. If you were only going to visit one of the Pueblos Blancos, I highly recommend that you visit Ronda.
Ronda is one of the oldest towns in Spain. There are remains from prehistoric settlements in the nearby “Cueva de la Pileta” and the Celts first settled the mountain top in the 10th century BCE. The Romans occupied the area dating back to the 1st century, and the Moors captured it in 713 and lived there until it fell to King Ferdinand in 1485. It’s the birthplace of bullfighting and has one of Spain’s most beautiful bullrings, which was actually built by the same architect who built the Puente Nuevo.
The beautiful Puente Nuevo - "New Bridge” - connecting the newer 15th century part of town with the older Moorish quarter (La Ciudad) is definitely the highlight. The views of the countryside and gorge from this bridge are jaw-droppingly spectacular. Its construction took nearly 34 years and was completed in 1793. The bridge stands nearly 400 feet from the bottom of the gorge and it’s hard to imagine just how tall that really is until you see it.
By far, our favorite part is the Moorish quarter which is quite charming and is easily walkable. You’ll encounter lovely winding streets that are perfect for strolling and meandering. There are the Arab baths, older bridges, fortress walls, palaces, museums, churches, and of course, plenty of restaurants and bars. And if the strolling begins to wear on you, there are also a few plazas where you can take a break, sit, and just relax.
Because they are located outside the city walls, the Baños Arabes (Arab Baths) are easy to miss but well worth visiting. These baths are some of the best-preserved of their kind in all of Spain. They have beautiful star-shaped skylights in the ceilings and horseshoe arches supporting barrel-vaulted ceilings which are simply stunning. While the design of the baths was very similar to that of the Romans, the Moors used steam to sweat out pollutants from the body instead of soaking in the hot water like the romans did. These baths were located next to the mosque and were a place where both locals and visitors would stop to purify and cleanse their bodies before entering the Mosque, where they would then go to purify their souls.
Ronda really is spectacular. It’s rich history, beautiful and charming old town, and magnificent vistas make this town a true gem. If Ronda has an imperfection, it’s that you will most likely not be the only one visiting. During the warmer months it gets very busy, and I highly recommend visiting later in the year when the crowds are somewhat smaller.
Words are powerful. They can also be transformational. Words inspire, stir, challenge, move, touch, and intrigue us. And, yet to this traveler, I can’t find the words to aptly describe the beauty and our experience of Ronda. No doubt a better writer would have more success, but I’m quite comfortable at this point to turn the task over to my iPhone. As you can see, my shutter was quite active during our visit - although the first shot is a professional drone shot to give you a sense of Ronda’s setting. Each photo will enlarge, for better viewing, when you click on it.
So, thank you for checking out the photos. You will not be disappointed. They tell the story of Ronda’s magnificence in a way that I never could. There is so much to see in Ronda that I encourage you simply to walk around as much as you can and especially in the Moorish section of town.