Spain has its fair share of must-not-miss pueblos, and Andalucia’s Ronda undoubtedly holds a firm spot in the top five.
This pueblo blanco, or white village, dates back to the Neolithic Age, and was one of the last towns to fall from Arab power during the Reconquista. Two things make it especially visit-worthy: it is believed to be the birthplace of bull fighting, and it also happens to straddle a pretty spectacular river-carved canyon. Here are our top things to do in Ronda.
Three bridges crisscross the 100-meter-deep gorge: the Arab Bridge, the Old Bridge and the New Bridge, which is the most famous of the bunch. It rises 98 meters above the Guadalevin River and, despite its “new” name, actually dates back to the 1700s (extra-old by American standards, anyway).
Near the Arab Bridge, you’ll find another stop worth making: the Arab baths, once used by Muslims for purification prior to entering the city. These 11th-century chambers are among the most well preserved in Europe, and were in use until the 17th century.
Beyond the bridges and baths, there still remains a lot to be discovered in the 35,000-person pueblo. Visit the bullring — built in 1784 — famous for being the oldest bullring in Spain, but also as the set for Madonna’s Take a Bow video back in the 90s. Make a stop at the bullring’s museum to learn about the Spanish sport and its origins in Ronda.
You can also visit the 16th-century Mondragón Palace, dating back to Moorish times. Now a museum, you can learn about the region’s history, but also frolic around in its gardens, making wishes in fountains, and wandering through courtyards.
If you’re keen to go for a little drive, though, head out of town to the Cueva de Pileta, traveling some 30 minutes away and 25,000 years into the past to see prehistoric cave paintings.
Finally, finish (or start!) your visit with a coffee or drink at the former town hall — now home to a Parador Hotel — while taking in views of the gaping Tajo Canyon.
- Contributed by Erin Ridley