21-23 November 2019
The rainbow on the day of our arrival was a false promise and we sat on our pitch listening to the rain drumming on the roof for 2 full days. But it was a nice site with piping hot showers and decent enough wi-fi and we were snug waiting it out.
On our 3rd morning the weather started to clear and we took advantage to walk into Ronda. The clouds lifted for a while to show us the surrounding mountains of the Serrania de Ronda which were quite lovely and looked great for walking. Another day.
We entered the old city, the Ciudad, through the Moorish gate at the southern end of town where the huge medieval Iglesia del Espíritu Santo towers over everything.
We liked Ronda straight away as the Moorish maze of old streets drew us up through town to the main event, the Puente Nuevo. We ignored the crowds and peered over the edge. The Rio Guadalvín has cut sheer cliffs that plunge down 130m and this gorge even has its own name – El Tajo.
The famous 18th century Puente Nuevo spans El Tajo. Both the bridge and its setting are as dramatic and beautiful as we had heard and more than justify the constant flow of day-trippers.
We had a great lunch at a really traditional hole-in-the-wall tapas bar tucked inconspicuously away in the tourist area. Lucky to get a stool, our welcoming host insisted on us trying the house speciality, meltingly tender beef cheek, and Danny sucked happily on pieces of pork ribs. Spain is a bit of a foodie favourite for us.
After lunch we visited another 18th century building, the Plaza de Toros, built in 1871 and one of the earliest in Spain.
To our surprise, beyond the stockyards we found a very grand dressage arena lit by chandeliers where the RMR – Real Maetranza de Caballería de Ronda – trains riders and instructors in classical dressage.
The RMR started in the 16th century as a brotherhood of horsemen charged with defending Ronda. They developed the teaching of military equestrian arts and merged Moorish & European techniques to create a unique style, then with the emergence of bullfighting as spectacle they also developed techniques for handling bulls from horseback. For those interested in horses, it is the oldest riding school in Spain and 2nd oldest in Europe and specialises in the beautiful Andalusian thoroughbred horse. Sadly there were none in evidence although the stables are next door.
Putting its purpose aside, the bullring is elegant and attractive with a double arcade of sandstone columns. In the area underneath the tiers of seats is a display relating to RMR as well as a 19th century harness & livery collection.
Danny declared it all well worth the €8 entry fee.
A copa of sherry and a tapas of Iberico bellota made a nice end to our first foray into Ronda.