Ronda: Modern Romance in Spain's Oldest Town

Ronda: Modern Romance in Spain's Oldest Town

MsMixalot

PUBLISHED

Ronda, AL / Dining / Outdoors / Sights

The ancient town of Ronda is one of the most romantic towns in Andalucía. Built on a high plateau and cut in two by the spectacular El Tajo gorge, it’s a place that simply takes your breath away. Spend a day and night exploring some of Ronda’s most magnificent sites and restaurants and you’ll see how this Puebla Blanca has enchanted everyone from the Romans to Hemmingway. In a city where the “new bridge” is over 200 years old, it’s easy to find something to fall in love with around every corner.

1. Check into the Count's Mansion

Hotel Montelirio

8 Calle Tenorio Ronda, AL, 29400

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Situated on the very edge of the gorge, this boutique hotel offers breathtaking views from well-appointed surroundings. Once the 17th century home of the Count Montelirio, the well-curated decor mirrors the area's culture-rich history but meshes seamlessly with its more modern luxuries such as Jacuzzi tubs, a plunge pool and Hermes toiletries.
Check out The view from our hotel room.
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2. Dine Like a Rondanian by the Gorge

Restaurant Don Miguel

3 Calle de Villanueva Ronda, AL, 29400

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A short stroll from the hotel, across the Puente Nuevo, you'll find this restaurant perched on the opposite side of the gorge. I'll be the first to admit, the menu here skews more tourist trap than authentic, but there are a couple local items worth stopping by for. Also, you can't beat the location and it gives you time to take in the view and settle into that Ronda rhythm. Sit outside on the terrace and order only these things, Rondanian bread soup, Rondanian sausages and cheese and the oxtail stew. Stray from those items and you're in tourist town, but at a beautiful tourist town at least.
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3. Get in the Bull Ring

Plaza de Toros de Ronda

15 Calle Virgen de la Paz Ronda, AL, 29400

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Once you’re sated, it’s time to explore one of Spain’s oldest bullrings. Erected in 1785 and built entirely of stone, Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is widely credited for being the birthplace of modern bull fighting.
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4. Explore the Depths of the Water Mine

Casa del Rey Moro

9 Calle de Santo Domingo Ronda, AL, 29400

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From the hanging gardens of the Casa Ray Del Moro (house of the Moorish king) you will find the entrance to La Mina or water mine. Carved into the side of the gorge by 14th century Christian slaves, the mine was originally used to protect the water supply when the town was (frequently) under attack. The 300+ steps lead you through the winding chambers of the mine to serene views at the bottom of the gorge.
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5. Stroll Across History

Puente Viejo

1 Calle Real Ronda, AL, 29400

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After you’re out of La Mina, it’s an easy downhill walk to the Puente Viejo. Puente Viejo or “Old Bridge” has been connecting the two sides of the town since 1616. While this is the town’s official “Old Bridge”, you can view the even older 12th century Arab Bridge as you walk across it.
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6. Explore the Arab Baths

Arab Baths

1 Calle Molino de Alarcón Ronda, AL, 29400

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Just a stone's throw away from Puente Viejo you'll find the 11th century Arab Baths, considered some of the best preserved of their kind in all of Europe.
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7. Indulge in Some New World Fare

Tragabuches

7 Plaza de España Ronda, AL, 29400

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After your day of touring ancient sites of Ronda, it's time to freshen up, put on something nice and enjoy a thoroughly modern meal. The cuisine of Tragabuches is rooted in Andalucia traditions, but prepared in a decidedly contemporary fashion. You can order a la carte here but for the best experience go for the tasting menu with wine paring. You won't regret it.
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8. Hike Down El Tajo

El Tajo

10 Calle Tenorio Ronda, AL, 29400

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Start your day with a Spanish breakfast of meat, cheese and rolls that's part of the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Better yet, have a nibble then take the rest to go, as there will be plenty of gorgeous spots for a picnic along your hike. Once you've got your walking shoes on, follow the stone path that leads down the gorge and keep going. This hike will take you down the side of the gorge, through some beautiful old ruins, and down to the farm lands below for the best view of the famous New Bridge that Ronda has to offer.
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9. Wander the Old City

La Ciudad

23 Calle Ruedo de Doña Elvira Ronda, AL, 29400

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La Cuidad is Ronda's old town, and in a town with this much history, there's something worth discovering around every corner. Wandering around the old town is akin to walking around a dream-narrow cobblestone streets open up onto quaint, hidden plazas, 15th century cathedrals abut 13th century minarets, the ruins of the old Moorish city wall mingle with whitewashed Spanish residences, also, the occasional sheep or goat appear out of nowhere. Largely devoid of traffic (car and tourist), this is a perfect area to toss out the map and get lost in the details.
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10. Lunch Like an Andalucian

Casa Maria

24 A-369 Ronda, AL, 29400

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After all that hiking and walking, you've earned this long, delicious lunch. Casa Maria is the type of place I always hoped to stumble on, a genuine, unpretentious, local joint that serves whatever is fresh that day. While it may not look like much, what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in flavor. Casa Maria has no menu, they just list off what they have that day. if your Spanish is no bueno, or if you like a surprise, then order as we did and tell them to bring whatever they would have for lunch. We ended up with a three-course meal of fried local goat cheese, a luscious feta and tomato salad and steaks so fresh and juicy that they came out still sizzling.
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