Ronda: The Basics

We spent four days living in the old quarter (La Cuidad) and exploring old and new Ronda. On our last day, Chris hiked a little; Melissa, whose ankle was still recovering, spent a pleasant afternoon sketching by the edge of the gorge.

Where we stayed:
Baraka Bed and Breakfast on Calle Ruedo Dona Elvira, next to the Hotel Ronda. A lovely little place with two bright rooms (with en suite bathroom), a quiet location in the old quarter just two blocks from the bridge, and a charming yellow patio and rooftop terrace. A splurge for us at 60 euros per night, but well worth it.

The patio at our B&B

Good places we ate:
There weren’t too many. Mostly, the food was bland and predictable tourist fare. An exception was the very good restaurant (don’t remember the name) on Calle Jose Aparicio between Plaza de Espana and the bullfighting ring (next to the highly expensive Restaurante Tragabuches).

What we saw:

New Bridge Museum: Instead of just walking across the famous bridge and looking down the gorge, for 2 euros you can go down some steps to the underside of the bridge and then up though a passage into the large room under the central arch. Inside is a display (in English as well as Spanish) about how the bridge was built in the 1700s and how it changed the city. There are some interesting old drawings of Ronda before the bridge, and of course great views from the central windows. When you’re in there, you’ll see why the room was used as a prison in the 19th century (with prisoners sometimes thrown into the gorge).

Houses clinging to the edges of Ronda’s 300-foot gorge

Museo Taurino in the Plaza de Toros: Small, underwhelming, overpriced museum attached to Ronda’s bullfighting arena. Lots of costumes and posters of famous matadors, but not much about the early history and appeal of the sport. Seeing the inside of the bullring and watching horseback riding lessons at the famous equestrian school were the most interesting part.

Cathedral (Iglesia de Santa Maria La Mayor): Smallish cathedral on a very pretty square in the old city, built (inevitably) over a demolished mosque. It’s an inharmonious mix of Gothic and Baroque styles (the original Gothic church was partly destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in a later style). The artwork isn’t particularly good.

The Moorish-style gardens of the 1314 Palacio de Mondragon

Palacio de Mondragon: A 1314 mansion now used as the city’s museum. The house is pretty—especially the courtyards and the clifftop Moorish-style gardens. The little English pamphlet guide is almost useless. Exhibitions describe the long history of settlement in the area and include various photographs but few artifacts. One particularly odd exhibit recreates the type of caves that dot the surrounding mountains, with fake stalactites and such. But it does show reproductions of ancient cave paintings in the area that are hard to see without a car.

Favorite things about Ronda:

  • The views
  • The Moorish-style gardens of the Palacio de Mondragon
  • WiFi and yellow walls in our B&B
  • One of the world’s best typos: the name of a local wine-making museum translated as Museum of the Whine (we all know people who should be exhibits there)
  • Good spring weather and yellow wildflowers
  • Ice cream
  • Watching children play in the Alameda de Tajo gardens

Least favorite things:

  • Too many tourists
  • Overpriced bullfighting museum
  • Inability to rent a car with automatic transmission anywhere in the city
  • No one offering daytrips to nearby sites
  • The outdated and useless dining entries in the Lonely Planet guide to Andalucia (they’ve been good in other places, such as Malaga, but they failed dismally in Ronda)
Church of Our Lady of Help (Nuestra Senora del Soccoro)

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