For Deb’s last day, I wanted to introduce her to one of Malaga’s gems: Ronda, a historic and picturesque town found nestled in the heart of the Sierra del Nieves Mountains. So we set off, taking in the panoramic views and breath-taking scenery as we went.
We opted to park in Parking Martinez Astein. Ronda is exactly how you would imagine an authentic Spanish town, complete with horse drawn carts, cobbled streets and an atmosphere that oozes the mantra “manana.”
We wandered down the Carretera Espinel, Ronda’s main shopping street and admired the local independent vendor’s fares and artisan crafts. One shop had us particularly awestruck – Marcos Morilla. It is a traditional shop that seems to have been a part of the town here for decades. It sells a myriad of wares, ranging from toys to tobacco, and displays them in large glass cabinets that showcased every possible colour of lace, pots of shiny buttons and skeins of luxurious wool. Sadly, it was closed for siesta on our way back up to the car…
Following the advice from my local expert, we happened upon the infamous Plaza del Torros. Despite having space for just 5,000 spectators, it is often thought to be the oldest and largest bullring in Spain. In fact, the rueda (the round circle of sand) is 6m bigger than Spain’s largest Bullring, the Plaza del Toros Las Ventas, found in Madrid.
Ronda’s bullring was commenced later than that of Seville, but was the first to be completed and stage a corrida. Whatever you feel about Bull Fighting, the Plaza del Toros de Ronda is a fascinating piece of Spanish history and architecture, and is certainly worth a visit.
For those who want to delve a little deeper, the Museo Taurino – the bullring’s museum – is now included in the entrance fee. The museum contains some of Andalucía’s most splendid and ostentatious outfits and regalia from the last two hundred years. If you prefer weapons over fashion, you can also find an extensive collection of weapons used during Spain’s many wars. More information can be found here.
El Puente Nuevo
Of course, no visit to Ronda could be complete without admiring and marvelling at the Puente Nuevo. El Puente Nuevo is the largest and newest of three bridges that overlook the Guadalevin River and span the 120 metre deep chasm that divides the city of Ronda.
Construction began in 1751 and took 42 years to complete, with fifty workers losing their lives during its construction. During the civil war from 1936-39 both sides allegedly used the chamber above the central arch as a prison and as a torture chamber, killing some opponents by throwing them from the windows to crash onto the rocks at the bottom of the El Tajo gorge (maybe this is where George R R Martin conceived of the Veil’s famous Sky Door in Game of Thrones).
We admired the view from a cosy, protected terrace at the Hotel Monteliro where we lunched on fresh vegetables with grilled local goat’s cheese, a citrusy prawn salad and crab Mille Feuille.
As always, I am looking forward to my next visitors arriving to encourage me to enjoy some more of the delights on offer on the Costa del Sol. What are some of your favourite secret spots on the coast?
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