In a beautiful fall morning, my parents and I left the Spanish Riviera, known as "Costa del Sol" and set on a new adventure to Ronda, one of the oldest strongholds of Moorish Spain. Our dramatic, windy- road ascent in Sierra de las Nieves Mountains (over 2400 meters!) suddenly ended on a plateau, and the outskirts of the town started to appear on the horizon.
Our first stop in the Andalusian countryside was a tour of a bullfighting and horse-breeding farm. After paying a visit to the happily roaming animals -- we were told that one bull enjoys the attention of 10 cows(!), we met with Rafael Tejado, the farm's owner. Presently a real matador in his early 40s, after starting out with an engineering degree, he realized that his life's passion was actually bullfighting. ...Did you know that Ronda is the oldest center of bullfighting in Spain? It was a surprise for us too.
After such an immersive encounter with daily Andalusian life, we made our way to Ronda.
The moment we entered the city we felt an excitement in the air. It was the last day of "Feria Goyesca de Pedro Romeo"- An annual festival that starts with a procession of colorful horse-drawn carriages and culminates to bullfighting spectacle. Locals & visitors alike were in a celebratory mood & all dressed in exquisite costumes for the fest. We snapped a couple of pictures and then slowly made our way towards the Old Town.
Overlooking the "El Tajo" Gorge is Puente Nuevo (the "New Bridge"), one of the most spectacular bridges in Spain. It was built in the 18th Century to connect the New & Old Town parts of Ronda, which dates all the way back to the Moorish period between the 8th & 15th Centuries.
Once there, our local guide took us to a hidden architectural treasure, one of the wealthiest homes in the Old Town, which is now converted into a unofficial museum. The highlight was the house's expansive terrace overlooking the gorge & the bridge. The views were mesmerizing!
After a short walk through narrow cobblestone streets and passing white-washed buildings, we were welcomed by another fascinating visit to one of Ronda's wineries. Here, I have to confess that we extended our wine tasting which was on a self-service basis... All the wines were delicious, but my favorite was a sweet, sherry wine. We learned that winemaking is one of the prime sources for Ronda's prosperity compare to other small Andalusian towns. ...A very pleasant surprise -- who knew?
After getting happily tipsy, we were ready to explore further. In our search for a good restaurant, we kind of stumbled into "King Moro's Water Mine" (one of the main points of interest in the Old Town). Carved into the cliffs of "El Tajo" gorge, the mine and the fortress date back to the Moorish Era when the constant wars in Al-Andalus requiring the city government to protect the water supplies to the city and its defenders. Within the mine are 231 steps carved into the rock that leads to the river below, a total distance of 60 meters. After our rapid descend and ascent, my parents and I were totally famished and speedily made our way back to the New Town, where the dining options were plenty. The main street was brimming with activities. the Goyesca festivities were over, and all the participants were enjoying a lazy afternoon with their families. After a delightful late lunch, sadly it was time to say "goodbye" to the mountainous town and make our way back to Costa del Sol. However, we will keep Ronda in our hearts forever.
Has this short read inspired you to visit Ronda yourself?