Ronda: The Perfect Surprise

When I was studying abroad in Granada in 2010 with CEA, they had a day trip planned for us to Ronda. It was right around the second weekend that I had been in Spain, so I was very excited to already to traveling around and seeing new places, especially since I never saw Ronda when I visited Spain back in high school. Since at this point in my adventure I was still trying to learn Granada, understand the Spanish that was spoken all around me, and just get into a daily routine of knowing what to do, I never did any research about Ronda, so when we arrived the sheer beauty and unbelievable setting was almost too much to take in.

To give you a little background on Ronda, something I didn’t have, it’s a city of roughly 35,000 in the province of Málaga in southern Spain. The Guadalevín River runs through the middle of the city carving a deep canyon that the city sits atop. There are three major bridges in Ronda: Puente Romano, Puenta Viejo, and Puente Nuevo. Now, I’ll admit that even if I had known these three bridges were some of the sights to see I probably wouldn’t have been all that excited, assuming I didn’t see pictures of them beforehand. Another main site in Ronda is the Plaza de toros, one of the oldest operational bullrings in all of Spain. I should also note that Ernest Hemingway spent many summers in Ronda, and allegedly based parts of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls in Ronda. I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, so do not read the next sentence if you don’t want a SPOILER ALERT! The cliffs the Nationalists were thrown off of in a village in Andalucía were supposed the Tajo canyon in Ronda.

Tajon Canyon

Tajon Canyon

Hopefully I didn’t ruin the novel for anyone, and congratulations, you now have more knowledge about Ronda than I did when the bus arrived at the station. It was early February and a cold, rainy day. I remember walking through the town and thinking how charming it was. It was your typical, small, idyllic Spanish town. Other than the lack of sunshine, I couldn’t find anything that it was missing.

Plaza de Toros - Ronda, Spain

Plaza de Toros – Ronda, Spain

Since it was built atop this canyon, the views off onto the countryside were outstanding and the city did a great job of showing it off by building a wonderful walkway around the edge of the cliff (with a railing and/or ledge) so you could follow it around and stare in amazement at the views. Just as you’re getting used to the countryside views and the sheer drop off you are standing on, you turn the corner to see the Puente Nuevo.

Puente Nuevo - Ronda, Spain

Puente Nuevo – Ronda, Spain

I remember just staring in awe at the pure magnificence of it. The height, the stature, and the fact that it was still standing and functioning had me dumbfounded.

As I was walking over the bridge looking down, a small trail out towards the base of it caught my eye, and I knew I needed to find it and hike down there. It was easy enough to find, and the hike down wasn’t bad at all. Although, the hike back up was going to be steep. While I knew my calves would be burning on the way up, that was just a small price to pay for the sight that awaited at the bottom.

Hiking down to base of Puente Nuevo

Hiking down to base of Puente Nuevo

Seeing the Puente Nuevo from below was even more fantastic than seeing it from above. You could truly take it in, in all its beauty. It was even more remarkable to me that it was still standing and functioning from this view. I would highly recommend that anyone visiting Ronda, take the hike down. One the other side of the Puente Nuevo, there was a street the wound its way down the side of the canyon that provided great views of the river. This trek was steep, but much easier and still breathtaking.

Puente Nuevo from the bottom of the trail

Puente Nuevo from the bottom of the trail

After visiting, if even just for a day, I understand why Hemingway would want to spend his summers here and why he’d be so inspired by it to include it in one of his novels. If you’re ever in Andalucía, I’d highly recommend making a stop in Ronda, even if it’s raining, or snowing as it did on the bus trip back to Granada.

Have you ever been to Ronda? What did you think of it? What’s the most inspiring place you’ve ever been?

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2 responses to “Ronda: The Perfect Surprise

  1. Looks as though my recent trip to Ronda was a carbon copy of yours. I spent the day wandering around town, hiked down and back up the trail to puente nuevo and had a peek inside the bull ring. Though I was luckier with the weather. Good Hemingway facts.

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