The One with Ronda, Spain


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Right after Arcos de la Frontera we drove to another cliff-city: Ronda! I was super excited about this city from googling pictures of it back in September. It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive from Arcos to Ronda and it went quickly as we enjoyed the beautiful countryside. We found parking and headed out.

Jane off in her own little world again!

Church.
Luscious park.
Our first stop was McDonald's for lunch. Just like every other McDonald's in every country in Europe we've visited, the place was packed. They always are. But, it hit the spot and we were ready to explore this incredible town. 
Ronda is not only one of the largest hill towns - with 35,000 people - but also one of the most spectacular thanks to its gorge-straddling setting. Approaching the town it seems flat, until you reach the New Bridge and realize that it's clinging to the walls of a canyon.
Such a cool setting. The buildings hugging the cliff walls along the gorge. Hopefully their front yards offer more grassy options instead of deathly cliffs like in their back yards :)
Ronda has done a great job of maximizing the wow factor of its bridge, gorge, and cliffside buildings with a lot of view points.
Ronda's breathtaking ravine divides the town's labyrinthine Moorish quarter and its new and more sprawling Mercadillo quarter that was built in 1485 after the Christian reconquest. The massive-yet-graceful 18th century bridge connects these two neighborhoods.
The ravine, called El Tajo, is 360 feet down and 200 feet wide.
Window shopping.
Can't get enough of the white facades and pops of color.
Following a tip from Rick Steves' and using Jay's keen eye for directions we made our way down into the Jardines de Cuenca park for the view of Ronda. Little Miss Independent didn't last long on Chris' shoulders. She wanted to walk, but we had to keep an eagle eye on her because there were some pretty gnarly drops.
After about a 10 minute fairly steep hike down we arrived at the best viewpoint in Ronda.
The Evans Family in Ronda, Spain on Sunday February 8th 2015.
The Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) mightily spans the gorge. It was built from 1751 to 1793 replacing one built in 1735 that collapsed after only six years. Yikes. The foundations of that original bridge are still in place and the new bridge was built on them.
Little daredevil Jane peeking out over the edge. Don't worry, Chris had a super tight grip on her. 
After taking in the incredible view and setting of this awesome town, we headed back up to keep exploring.
Spanish charm at its finest.
The whitewashed old town is called La Ciudad and was the old Moorish quarter. It was so picturesque.
Reminds of Paris.
Oh the life of a two year old.
LOVED these plates and stairs!
It's like a "thing" to attach pots to walls.
#hashtag door. 'Nuf said.
We wandered down to the Santa Maria la Mayor Collegiate Church, a 15th century church sharing a park-like square with orange trees around city hall. It was built on and around the remains of Moorish Ronda's main mosque which itself was built on the site of a temple to Julius Caesar.
The church has a fine Mudejar bell tower, an architectural style we'd get to see a lot more of in Seville.
The square in front of the church. Jane may or may not have, but definitely did, run straight to the fountain and splash her hands in the water. That was the theme of this trip: Jane playing in every drop of water we encountered.
We saw a beetle crossing the road and Haylie literally picked it up with her fingers and placed it on a napkin for the kids to get a closer look. She's got guts!
Um. Yes. This. Wow.
Then back in the new part of town we toured Ronda's bullring. Ronda is the birthplace of modern bullfighting in Spain and this was the first great Spanish bullring. Philip II initiated bullfighting as war training for knights in the 16th century. Back then there were two types of bullfighting: the type with noble knights on horseback, and the coarser man-versus-beast entertainment for the commoners. Ronda practically worships Francisco Romero who melded the noble and chaotic kinds of bullfighting with rules to establish modern bullfighting right here in the early 1700s. He introduced the scarlet cape held unfurled with a stick. His son Juan further developed the sport and his grandson Pedro was one of the first great matadors.

Ronda's bullring and museum are Spain's most interesting to tour, even better than the famous ring in Seville.
A statue of Francisco Romero.

When my grandma Doris found out we were going to Ronda she told us we had to go into the museum in the bullring and see this, a GIANT bull skull.
One of my favorite parts was the collection of original historic posters from Ronda's bullfights including pieces done by Picasso and Goya.
The displays of the matador costumes were incredible and oh so colorful. These guys must have been tiny, the costumes almost look child-size!
These are the bullpens where the bulls are held before the fights. Ropes and pulleys safely open the right door at the right time.
We got to go into the ring. The two-tiered arena was built in 1785 on the 300th anniversary of the defeat of the Moors in Ronda. There are 136 Tuscan style columns creating a kind of 18th century Italian theater.
Lovers of the "art" of bullfighting will explain that the event is much more than the actual killing of the bull. It celebrates the noble heritage and the Andalusian horse culture. Still, it seems cruel to me and there is no way in a million billion trillion years I would ever watch one. Sorry Grandma :)
No bulls in sight when we took this stroller selfie, thank goodness!
That concludes our lovely afternoon in Ronda. What a neat place!
We've had a few GPS adventures on these road trips with Jaylie. In Croatia it took us through a dirt two track road through farmers fields, but did get us to the right place, eventually. We thought it would never top that, but as we were leaving Ronda looking for the Autostrada to our next stop, the GPS instructed us to leave the beautiful multilane road with huge signs marked "Seville." At first it was fine, a nice albeit somewhat curvy paved two-lane road. Then it told us to turn again and the road became gravel, then dirt as it cut through fields past a random horse and an abondoned farmhouse. Eventually it got to a point where it wanted us to cross a muddy stream, I kid you not, then go up this super steep embankment up to the actual road the signs wanted us to go on in the first place. We looked at the crossing, then the hill up to the highway, and thought, nah, better not. Turned around and just followed the signs. Sorry GPS. Sometimes you are completely crazy. I think they have satellite cameras so the Garmin employees who made this route can watch and laugh their heads off as a huge, rear-wheel drive Mercedes van attempts a road not even a Hummer could take on.  

After that, um, adventure, we drove to my favorite city this whole trip: Seville, Spain!
Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN