One of Spain’s oldest towns, Ronda is situated in the mountains in the province of Málaga. It’s notable for its picturesque views and is home to a selection of palaces, churches and museums open to visitors. Ronda has also provided inspiration to writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Rainer Maria Rilke and George Eliot.
There are three famous bridges in Ronda; the Puente Romano (Roman bridge), Puente Viejo (old bridge), and the Puente Nuevo (‘New bridge’). The latter, which separates the old and new towns, is the most iconic, and is most spectacular when you climb down the stairs of La Mina and view it from below, 390 ft. down.
We highly recommend taking some time to visit the Puente Nuevo at least, as it is the quintessential picture-postcard view of Ronda.
Did you know? – There was a rumour that the architect of the Puente Nuevo threw himself off it in despair shortly after it was finished, as someone suggested a second and more beautiful bridge would have to be built. This rumour is actually false, as the architect lived until 1802, nine years after the bridge was completed.
Accessed through the Casa del Rey Moro, La Mina is a stairway of over 200 steps carved from the rock itself which lead down to the river at the bottom of the gorge. There used to be a well to collect water which was needed in the palace – a water wheel was used to bring the water up to the top of the gorge. Then a human chain of slaves transported the water to the city in leather sacks.
Be aware that this long climb may prove inaccessible for some people, and can be dark and slippery at times. However, if you are able to make it to the bottom then the view of Puente Nuevo from below is well worth the climb. There’s also information inside so the students can discover how the mine was used, as well as learning more about Moorish resistance to the Christian conquest in the 11th century
Did you know? – The tower built at the foot of the palace also acted as a secret escape route from the city, as you could pass through the tower and escape via the river!
Bullring (Plaza de Toros)
The same architect who designed the Puente Nuevo (José Martín de Aldehuela) also designed the bullring in Ronda, one of the oldest in Spain, at nearly 200 years old. It has hosted some of the most significant bullfighting moments in history, alongside other shows such as operas.
It’s open to the public during the day so you can go inside to admire more of the fantastic architecture of José Martín de Aldehuela.
Matadors are considered both artists and athletes with their artistry in killing the bull being equally important as their success. The most famous bullfighters have celebrity status. Visiting a bullring and learning about the tradition of bullfighting, as well as considering the ethical questions it raises, is a valuable learning point for students of Spanish.
Santa María la Mayor church
This former mosque was converted into a church with intricate decoration. Some parts are built in a gothic style and others in a Renaissance style, due to the fact that it took around two centuries to build.
Inside you can see the ‘pasos‘ of Semana Santa – the statues which are carried through the town during celebratory parades at Easter time, a Spanish-wide tradition. Visiting Spanish churches can give an insight into the importance of Catholicism in Spanish culture.
Palacio de Mondragón – Municipal Museum of Ronda
A museum housed in a palace, commendable for the accessible information (both in English and Spanish) explaining the archaeological and historical facts about the different rooms within. This early 13th-Century palace was allegedly built for Abomelic, the son of the King of Morocco. Later, the most important work was done on the palace during the Christian era.
The highlight is the view from its cliff-top garden, although it also boasts elegant archways which look onto impressive courtyards complete with fountains. A perfect example of a mudéjar (Islamic-Christian style) coffered ceiling can be found in the hall.
Did you know? – Moorish style still heavily inspired architecture in Spain even after the Christian reconquest. ‘Mudéjar’ archictecture is the result – it incorporates both Islamic and Christain elements. Andalusia is one of the best places to see mudéjar architecture.
The Moors used these Baths to cleanse themselves before entering the Mosque which was located close by. They used steam to clean themselves rather than water, with the idea being that they would sweat out impurities.
The exhibitions explains what the function of the various rooms were (the reception area/changing area, the cold room, the warm room, the hot room), the rituals that were practised, and the social function of the Baths.
Visiting the Baths gives students an impression of what it was like to live in Ronda during the Moorish times, by showing them more about the daily lives of the people there.
Journey time to Ronda: 2 hours by coach