Ronda one of Spain most beautiful old town

Ronda one of Spain most beautiful old town

onda is one of the most beautiful of Andalusia

 

Steeped in dark myths and bullfighting folklore, whilst boasting one of the most extraordinary locations in Spain, it is small wonder that Ronda has become Andalusia’s third most visited town. With its world-famous New Bridge and bullring, as well as the hidden corners of the gorge on top of which it perches, Ronda will not disappoint.

 

 

New Bridge

One of southern Spain’s most famous attractions, Ronda’s epic Puente Nuevo or New Bridge, spans the 328-feet-deep El Tajo gorge, linking El Mercadillo (The Little Market), the newer part of town, with the old Moorish quarter. Completed in 1793, it took some forty years and the lives of 50 construction workers to build.

Day Trip to Ronda from Seville Spain

For just 2.50 euros you can visit the museum in a little stone-walled cavern in the middle of the bridge, which was used as a prison throughout the 19th century and during Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939). It is also said, that during the Civil War both Republican and Nationalist prisoners whose luck had run out were thrown from the bridge to their deaths. For a searing fictionalization of a massacre which it is said was loosely-based on events in Ronda, see Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

 

 

18th-century bullring

 

Opened in 1785, Ronda’s stately bullring is now used just once a year for the exclusive annual bullfight of the town’s September Feria. It was on the pale sands of this historic arena that a new kind of bullfighting was forged by Francisco Romero in the 18th century. Romero introduced the now iconic red cape known as “the muleta” and faced the bull on foot, whereas before matadors had performed on horseback.

Ronda´s historic bullring; pixabay

Outside the arena are statues of Antonio Ordonez, another important Ronda bullfighter and of a life-size fighting bull, which better enables you to understand how hard it must be to keep still when one of these half-ton animals is running at you.  There are several daily tours of the bullring and you can learn more about the controversial spectacle that takes place within it, at the excellent museum.

Plaza de Toros de Ronda, 15 Calle Virgen de la Paz, Ronda, Spain, 0034 952 87 41 32

Ernest Hemingway Pathway

Ronda’s bullfighting culture-inspired not one but two works by the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. Ronda-born Cayetano Ordonez (1904-1961) was the model for the swaggering bullfighter Pedro Romero in Hemingway´s Fiesta – a novel which also made the bull-running fiesta of Pamplona world-famous (some would say much for the worse). Cayetano’s son, Antonio Ordonez (1932-1998), became a great torero as well and his intense rivalry with matador Luis Miguel Dominguín during the 1959-60 season was documented by Hemingway in A Dangerous Summer

The writer is remembered in Ronda by the Paseo de Ernest Hemingway, a pathway that runs alongside the top of El Tajo river in the ‘new’ part of town and which offers some of the best views of the surrounding landscape.

rsz_dsc01868

Hemingway was inspired by Ronda´s great bullfighters; Encarni Novillo

 

 

The Moorish Palace

La Casa del Rey Moro was in fact built in the 18th century, long after the town fell to the Christians in 1485. It sits atop El Tajo gorge on the old Moorish side of town and, although the palace is closed to the public, you can still walk down the steep stone staircase of the Water Mine – which actually does date from the city’s time under Muslim rule – all the way to the bottom of El Tajo.

 

Matt Blackwell, flickr

Ronda´s “Water Mine” Matt Blackwell, flickr

During Ronda’s Moorish occupation, it was to this perilous staircase that Christian slaves are said to have been chained in order to pass containers of water up to the town from the river Guadalevin. The neck-craning views of Puente Nuevo from the bottom of the gorge are well worth the 300-step trek back to the top.

Casa del Rey Moro, 9 Calle Cuesta de Santo Domingo, Ronda, Spain, 0034 952 18 71 19

Walking in El Tajo

On either side of the New Bridge, there are scenic walking routes to the bottom of El Tajo canyon. On the side of the old town, a little country path takes you down the hillside and under the great bridge itself, via some slightly hairy sections that resemble a much lower but less well-maintained version of Malaga’s terrifying Caminito del Rey.

On the side of the newer part of town, a better-maintained pathway takes you across one of the quaint older bridges that New Bridge was meant to improve upon, and back up the other side of the gorge past the Casa del Rey Moro. Both of these undemanding walks provide an abundance of spots from which to contemplate the untamed beauty of Ronda’s location.

 

One of the pathways leading down into Ronda´s "El Tajo" gorge; Encar Novillo

One of the pathways leading down into Ronda´s “El Tajo” gorge; Encarni Novillo

 

 

Old and New Town

El Tajo canyon not only rendered necessary Ronda’s most iconic attraction, but it also divides the town into two separate halves, each with its own style and atmosphere. La Ciudad – or The Town – is the original Moorish part and weaves around one central Street, Calle Armiñan, south of Puente Nuevo.

The best time to explore the old quarter -Ronda was under Muslim dominion from 712 to 1485- is in the evening or at night when the coach-loads of tourists are in their restaurants or hotels on the other side of the canyon. 

On the northern cliffs of El Tajo is the more commercial part of town, known as El Mercadillo  or The Little Market – it was developed after the Arabs were expelled towards the end of the fifteenth century. The heart of modern-day Ronda has retained all of the beauty and charm of Andalusia’s gorgeous ‘white villages’, even if its Plaza España is now home to a Macdonalds.

A pretty backstreet in the old Moorish quarter of Ronda; Harvey Barrison, flickr

A pretty backstreet in the old Moorish quarter of Ronda; Harvey Barrison, flickr

 

 

The Arabic Baths

Despite the fact they were in continual use for some 600 years, Ronda’s 10th and 11th-century Arabic baths are among the best-preserved in Spain (along with those in Granada).

Ronda´s Arabic baths are mong the best-preserved in Spain; Bobo Boom, flickr

Ronda´s Arabic baths are among the best-preserved in Spain; Bobo Boom, flickr

 

Though their working parts are no longer in existence, it is not hard to imagine the busy social life that unfolded within these cool, domed rooms, the ceilings of which are attractively studded with star-shaped vents for light and ventilation. They were situated outside the old city walls, near to one of Ronda’s original bridges, the Puente Arabe.

Baños Arabes, 11 Calle Molino de Alarcón, Ronda, Spain, 0034 952 18 71 19

Balconies

The pathway that runs from Ronda’s bullring and along the cliff-edge to Paseo Ernest Hemingway and Puente Nuevo contains a number of viewing points that are hilariously called ‘Balcons Coños’ in Spanish. These balconies jut out over the cliffside and provide straight-down views that will make even the least vertigo-suffering of visitors shudder.

These vertiginous platforms feel much sturdier than they look when viewed from a distance, especially if there are a number of (cursing) visitors crammed onto them.

Hernán Piñera, flickr

One of Ronda´s hair-raising balconies Hernán Piñera, flickr

Bird watching

If you can bring yourself to inch onto one of the precipitous balconies overhanging El Tajo canyon, they provide a perfect spot from which to try and catch sight of some of the area’s beautiful airborne wildlife.

"El Tajo" gorge is home to many beautiful species of birds; Encarni Novillo

“El Tajo” gorge is home to many beautiful species of birds; Encarni Novillo

 

The gorge that splits Ronda in two is an ideal hunting and nesting ground for its many species of bird, among which are eagles, kestrels, falcons and the menacing Griffon Vulture, which has a giant 9-meter wingspan. Ronda’s clifftop location allows you to feel part of these magnificent birds’ natural habitat in a way you rarely can at less stomach-churning heights.

 

 

 

Original post: Mark Naylen, The Culture Trip
Must-Visit Attractions in Granada

Must-Visit Attractions in Granada

Wonder What to See & Do in Granada?

 

 

Granada has one of the most fascinating histories and cultures in all of Spain. As you’d expect, then, the city is packed with attractions and monuments to explore – from the great Alhambra fortress and old Moorish neighborhood of Albaicín to amazing street art, great tapas bars and a joyful annual fiesta.

 

 

The Alhambra Palaces

Granada’s star attraction and one of Andalusia’s most iconic sights is the Alhambra fortress. The greatest surviving relic of southern Spain’s 800 years under Muslim rule, between the 8th and 15th centuries, this sprawling complex sits forbiddingly atop the Darro Valley, with the crisp peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the background.

Originally dating from the 9th century, the fort and walls were extensively rebuilt in the 1200s by the Moorish ruler of what was then the Emirate of Granada, Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. Particularly beautiful are the Nasrid palaces; built by the Nasrid Kings – the last Moorish rulers of Granada – during the 13th and 14th centuries, which feature some of the Alhambra’s most intricate interiors.

The Islamic Heritage of Granada - Alhambra Tour for Muslim Travelers

Sacromonte

Time has stood still in the rustic gypsy quarter of Sacromonte, one of Granada’s most distinctive attractions. Many locals still live in dappled white caves carved out of the rock, in which impromptu flamenco gatherings are held long into the night. There are also dwellings entirely improvised from scrap metal, wood, and cloth, in which a rusty bucket protected from view by a ragged old rug often passes for a bathroom (sometimes accompanied by a scrawled sign asking visitors not to take photos of these private spaces). Sacromonte is also Granada’s flamenco barrio, where you are always within earshot of the art’s distinctive, haunting sounds. If you want to go to a formal show, try Venta El Gallo, which also has a fabulous roof terrace. 

 

The Abbey of the Sacromonte

High up in the untamed countryside above Granada’s gypsy quarter is the Abbey of Sacromonte, the neighborhood’s key historical attraction. This now-neglected 17th-century structure was built by Archbishop Pedro de Castro y Quiñones on a site that was supposedly the final resting place of Saint Caecilius, a martyr and Granada’s first bishop in the 1st century A.D. It was an inspired spot to choose, located so far above the city that the stillness and solitude feel almost like presence. For €4 you can visit some of the interiors and, best of all, the narrow, spooky Holy Caves that are annexed to the abbey.

 

Palacio de Dar al-Horra

One of Albaicín’s key architectural attractions is this elegant and understated Moorish palace. Its name means “Home of the Honest,” and it was the residence of the sultana Aixa, mother of Muhammad XII (known as Boabdil to the Spanish), the last Moorish King of Granada. In traditional Moorish style, its quarters and rooms are located on three levels around a central courtyard and pool, which provided shade and cool in the summer. Also, the remaining are parts of what were once extensive gardens and orchards. Aixa is reputed to have bitterly rebuked her son for losing Granada as they fled the conquered city in 1492; perhaps she didn’t just have the loss of the mighty Alhambra in mind as she did so.

 

El Bañuelo Baths

Tucked away underneath a private house about halfway along the Carrera del Darro are the oldest and best-preserved Arabic baths in Spain. The Bañuelo dates from around the 11th century and its elegant Moorish archways and domed ceilings are still amazingly intact after a thousand years (although the baths themselves have long since vanished). Undoubtedly, after the Alhambra and the Generalife, this is the greatest surviving instance of Moorish architecture in Granada.

 

 

Realejo Quarter

Realejo is Granada’s old Jewish quarter and one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, the streets and squares of which reward aimless meandering. Particularly attractive is the Iglesia Santo Domingo – one of the more obscure churches in the city, yet one of the most beautiful, inside and out. The most dilapidated walls and building façades of Realejo also constitute a de facto art gallery, displaying the works of local spray-paint artist Raul Ruiz, also known as “El Niño.” El Niño’s incredible pictures lend Realejo an edgy, creative ambiance all of its own, and give you the wonderful feeling that you’ve discovered something no one else has.

This revealing collection of documents, sketches, and photographs is situated in a park on Granada’s southern edge that also bears the name of the city’s most famous son. Federico García Lorca was one of the most important Spanish writers of the 20th century, and the elegant townhouse that houses these artifacts is where the poet was born in 1898 and lived until he was 11. Lorca was murdered at the beginning of Spain’s devastating Civil War of 1936-39, and his exact burial spot – thought to be somewhere outside the boundaries of the city’s official cemetery – is still not known.

The Carrera del Darro is Granada’s prettiest street. Starting at Plaza Nueva and winding down towards Albaicín alongside the Darro River, it is lined with centuries-old buildings rising up from the riverbank, their worn façades covered (in spring and summer) by lush creepers and colorful blossom. As you stroll along, peer over the ancient stone wall to see the Darro River gently flowing between verdant banks; here, the river passes under two of the oldest surviving bridges in Granada, and remnants of a few more that used to connect Albaicin with the Alhambra.

 

 

Granada Cathedral

At the center of old Granada is the city’s great cathedral. Work on this imposing Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque structure began in 1518 and, although it took over 180 years and successive architects to build, it’s still not entirely finished: two 262-foot (80-meter) towers were originally planned, but only half of one was ever finished. The cathedral’s towering façade is largely the work of Granadino architect and artist Alonso Cano, who introduced Baroque features when he took over its design in 1652; Cano’s input further contributed to the intriguing mixture of styles that characterize this awesome structure. 

 

The Generalife Palace

The Generalife functioned as the Alhambra’s Summer Palace, with its exquisite gardens providing a cool haven for the sultans during the furnace of Andalusian summers. Narrow paths run alongside delicate flowerbeds and ponds so still that the elegant archways and whitewashed walls – which separated the palace’s vegetable gardens – are perfectly replicated in the water.

An external walkway connecting the Generalife’s north and south sides provides a stunning view of the old Arabic neighborhood of Albaicín. Indeed, Albaicín itself is one of the most impressive sights in the city when viewed from the turrets and windows of the Alhambra and Generalife.

If you’re at the top of the hill to visit the Alhambra, don’t go back down without first wandering around the Carmen de Los Martires gardens, one of the city’s most attractive green spaces.

Because the majority of visitors head straight for the Alhambra, this lovely haven of flowerbeds, small ponds and leafy paths is only ever sparsely populated with guests. In spring and summer, its shaded walkways provide a sanctuary from the powerful sun, and its views of the landscape beyond Granada give a sense of space that can be lacking in the cramped city center. A fairytale tower sits in the middle of this verdant oasis; climb up its small spiral staircase and survey the gardens and Granada from the city’s most romantic viewpoint.

No visit to Granada would be complete without a visit to its oldest neighborhood, the former Arabic quarter of Albaicin. This compact network of winding cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and jasmine-scented squares perches on the hillside the other side of the Darro River from the Alhambra. It requires a little exertion to reach the top of Albaicín, especially in spring or summer, but it will be energy well expended: the views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains from its most popular square, the Mirador San Nicolás, are some of the best in the city. There is also a lively flea market every Saturday morning on Plaza Larga, one of the barrio’s prettiest spaces.

Generalife of Alhambra Palaces - Granada Muslim Travel
Generalife of Alhambra Gardens - Granada Muslim Travel

 

Museum of Fine Arts

Granada’s leading art museum for classic works houses over 2,000 pieces, including a number of important religious paintings and sculptures dating from the 16th century onwards. Like the palace itself, this collection serves as a reminder of the Catholic conquest of Granada, and of successive Catholic monarchs’ attempts to stamp their own religion and identity on what had been Moorish territory for around eight hundred years. The museum also has a number of works by local artist Alonzo Cano, also an architect who designed the façade of Granada’s cathedral.

 

Book an Experience