Ronda

There are times during longer travel journeys when you need to take a moment out for yourself and find tranquillity and inspiration. The famous German poet Rainer Maria Rilke said back in 1912 “I have looked everywhere for the dream city and finally found it in Ronda”.

Ronda is a magical place, built astride a huge gash in the mountains carved out by the Río Guadalevín. You might have never heard about it but its spectacular location atop El Tajo gorge is incredibly breath-taking ant totally worth a visit or even better, to stay few days.

The gorge that drops sheer for 130m on three sides, separates the city’s 15th-century new town from its Moorish old town where tall whitewashed houses lean perilously from its precipitous edges. Still more spectacular, the gorge is spanned by a stunning XVIII century arched bridge, the Puente Nuevo, which has a lookout offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Not surprisingly, this dramatic and dominant location attracted not only the early Celts but Phoenicians and Greeks as well. Under Rome, it became an important military bastion. When the Moors later came, “Medina Runda” was embellished with lavish mosques and palaces and the town ruled as an independent and isolated Moorish kingdom until annexed by Seville in the mid-eleventh century. It then passed successively through the hands of the Almoravids, to end up as a fief of Nasrid Granada in 1349. Only after a long and bitter struggle did the town finally fall to Fernando and Isabel in 1485.

Modern bullfighting was practically invented here in the late 18th century, and the town’s fame was spread further by its close association with American Europhiles Ernest Hemingway (a lover of bullfighting) and Orson Welles (whose ashes are buried in the town).

To complete this unique experience of exploring the deepest soul of Southern Spain, a must visit are the surrounding white villages of the Sierra de Grazalema. An enchanting world of Moorish charm awaits visitors who travel off the beaten path to these picturesque hilltop towns, distinguished by their simple whitewashed houses influenced by the Berber architecture of North Africa, the Moors’ native land.

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