Ronda, a cliffside town in Andalusia Spain

Puente Nuevo ("New Bridge")
Our adventure takes us to Ronda, a village in the Spanish province of Málaga. It is located about 105 km (65 mi) west of the city of Málaga, within the autonomous community of Andalusia. Its population is about 35,000 inhabitants.

The weather still hasn't cleared and the mountain views are hidden in the fog. This makes viewing the White Towns of Andalusia, or Pueblos Blancos, a series of towns and large villages in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain difficult to see. But we get the idea.

The village of Ronda is in a mountainous region about 750 m (2,460 ft) above mean sea level. The Guadalevín River runs through the city, dividing it in two and carving out the steep, 100-plus-meter-deep El Tajo canyon above which the city perches. (The canyon is 300 feet deep and 200 feet wide.)

We meet our local guide Antonio for a walking tour of the old and new villages.

Some of the town's highlights include:

Alameda del Tajo Ronda

Plaza de toros de Ronda, the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain.

  Antonio explains the history and tradition of bullfighting in Spain and specifically Ronda.

Real Maestranzade Caballeria de Ronda the riding school founded in 1573 by Phillip II to train his knights. The knights fought bulls on horseback. Riding lessons (mostly dressage) are still taught today.

We stroll through areas dedicated to American artists Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles who spent many summers in Ronda as part-time residents of Ronda's old-town quarter called La Ciudad. Both wrote about Ronda's beauty and famous bullfighting traditions.

Hemingway's novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls" describes the execution of Nationalist sympathizers early in the Spanish Civil War. The Republicans murder the Nationalists by throwing them from cliffs in an Andalusian village, and Hemingway allegedly based the account on killings that took place in Ronda at the cliffs of El Tajo.

Orson Welles said he was inspired by his frequent trips to Spain and Ronda (e.g. his unfinished film about Don Quixote). After he died in 1985, his ashes were buried in a well on the rural property of his friend, retired bullfighter Antonio Ordoñez.

After our walking tour, our group breaks up for lunch and some free to explore on our own. Jay and I head up the main shopping avenue and end up at Bar La Bola.  It wasn't crowded (only a few gentlemen enjoying coffee outside and one other couple having a snack inside with us) so the waiter was eager to serve us. The food was very good. I had tomato soup and calamares en salada.

After lunch, Jay and I decided to visit the other bridges of Ronda. There are three bridges, Puente Romano ("Roman Bridge", also known as the Puente San Miguel), Puente Viejo ("Old Bridge", also known as the Puente Árabe or "Arab Bridge"), and Puente Nuevo ("New Bridge"), spans the canyon (see photo above).

Puente Romano ("Roman Bridge", also known as the Puente San Miguel)

Puente Viejo ("Old Bridge", also known as the Puente Árabe or "Arab Bridge")
 We meet the rest of our crew at 3 p.m. at the bullring and walk back to the bus. We have a bit of a drive to our next stop Costa del Sol. (Kind of like Florida for the snowbirds of Europe.)

We'll be staying a couple of nights at the Hotel Alay in Benalmádena, Málaga. The breakfast and dinner buffets will surely keep us fueled for our visit to Gibraltar.

More photos of Ronda:

More photos from our adventure:

Nancy Nutile-McMenemy is an Upper Valley freelance photographer and writer who loves to attend concerts and local events in and around Weathersfield and the Upper Valley.

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