May 15-17: Ronda, Spain
Ronda is a gorgeous little medieval town, located between Granada and Sevilla, and perched on either side of a 400+ foot gorge called El Tajo. We stayed in smaller “old town” which dates back more than 1000 years to Moorish times while across the old bridge is the “new” town, built in the mid-1400’s.
There are three bridges crossing the El Tajo gorge. The lowest is Puente Veijo (old bridge), also called the Arab bridge. Close by, and slightly higher, is Puente Romano. The tallest one, crossing at the highest point of the gorge, is the 200 year old Puente Nuevo (new bridge). I read that this is the second bridge built on the site. The first one was built too hastily in 1739 and ended up collapsing five years later, killing fifty people. On the west side of the gorge, the Guadalevin River falls over a 50 foot waterfall. To learn more about the history and construction of the Puente Nuevo, check out this interesting site.
The bridge and gorge is all the more spectacular given their rural surroundings, as the backdrop is of lovely green fields and gentle hills. As we walked down the trail to the lower bridges, we met up with a farmer and his helper moving 75 sheep to the next pasture. We passed by the old arab bath ruins (€4 entry), and then crossed the Roman bridge and wandered up through a series of tiered lookouts to see the beauty of the bridges, the gorge, and the river below.
We booked our B&B through booking.com, staying at the Boabdil Guesthouse (named after Mohammad the Xll who was known as King Boabdil to the Spanish and who ruled from 1480 until the final conquest in 1492). Our guesthouse was in an old Moorish house, and separated into a number of guest rooms, each with private bath, and most with a deck or balcony. There was a shared lounge room with access to a fridge and coffee/tea as well as an “Honesty Bar” where you could purchase inexpensive cold drinks. (€60 / $105 CAD per night)
We stayed in Ronda for two nights which gave us a full day to wander both the new and the old towns, hike the trail down to the lower bridges, and loop back up to the top. We also went took another trail on the lower side of the bridge to get a better look at the waterfall.
On our second night, we ate at a small tapas bar that was just around the corner from our B&B. It had a menu of about 25 items, all prepared fresh by a Basque chef. They were based on traditional foods of the area but given a new twist and were absolutely delicious. The restaurant is called De Locos Tapas and only has about seven tables so you must make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. We were lucky to get in. We ordered six different dishes and shared them all, and two desserts, as they were brought to the table by the busy waitress. The portions weren’t large but the prices were excellent and we left quite full for only $55 CAD including drinks. It was arguably the best meal we’ve had in Spain.
On our way to Sevilla the next morning, we drove down a narrow country road to the bottom of the valley to get a few final photos of the bridge crossing El Tajo, from below. What an amazing site, and such a feat of construction! Ronda is definitely worth a side trip, if you don’t plan to visit over night. That being said, we were glad to have had two nights.
Next up: Seville, Spain