EL VIAJERO

A perfect 24 hours in Ronda

Renowned for its vertiginous bridge, the town-on-a-cliff has also found videogame fame

The town of Ronda in Málaga province.
The town of Ronda in Málaga province.José Fuste

Tourists may find it difficult to find Kazunori Yamauchi avenue on a street map of Ronda, or even believe that it can even exist in the Málaga town. The city-on-a-cliff has gained worldwide recognition after the Japanese videogame director turned it into a virtual racetrack for the videogame Gran Turismo 6. Thanks to his work, it has become the third-most-visited town in Andalusia. Here was where the poet Rainer Maria Rilke strolled in the winter of 1912, becoming fascinated by this settlement perched on either side of a vertiginous abyss plunging almost 100 meters down to the river below. Ronda, with a population of 36,000, is passionate about defending its Roman and Arab past, its wine-making tradition and its cultural and natural heritage.

8.30 In the heart of the city

Take advantage of the first few rays of sun to marvel at the grandeur of the Puente Nuevo (1), which since the 13th century has linked old and modern Ronda. As you walk along it, it’s worth stopping at one of its balconies to examine the giddying drop down. To admire architect Martín de Aldehuela’s 1793 bridge from the front, continue along the cobblestone streets until you arrive at the Plaza de María Auxiliadora. On your left, a staircase path connects the city with the bottom of the El Tajo canyon.

10.00 A fortress in the rock

On the winding walk towards the old part of town, you arrive at Islamic Ronda, which 1,000 years ago was declared an independent kingdom. Built between the 14th and 15th centuries, the recently refurbished Casa del Gigante (2) (on the Plaza del Gigante) is one of the best-preserved Nasrid palaces outside of Granada. Close by is the Alminar de San Sebastián (3) (St. Sebastian's Minaret) on the Plaza de Abul Beka and, five minutes away, the Palacio del Rey Moro (4) (Palace of the Moorish King) on Cuesta de Santo Domingo, 9, where you can visit the Mina (mine), a fortress excavated from the rock with a zigzag staircase that leads down to the river and which once served as a prison for the Christian slaves who supplied water to the town. After a short break in the Forestier Gardens continue to the almost immaculately preserved Arab Baths (5) (Calle del Molino de Alacrón, 11).

12.30 A wine route

The hours before lunch or dinner time are perhaps the best time to savor Ronda’s prize-winning wines. Sixteen wineries are all within a 30-minute drive of the town center. For example, the Descalzos Viejos winery (6) (Partido de los Molinos, s/N), housed in the church of a 16th-century Trinitarian convent, offers impressive views of the Tagus Basin. The winemaking tradition in the area goes back to the Roman era, which is reflected in the remains at the Morosanto winery (Arriate-Sentil highway, kilometer 1.6) and the coins found at the Acinipo site 20 kilometers away. At the Doña Elisa-Chinchilla winery (Cordel del Puerto Alquejigal, s/n), you can sample a glass of wine while savoring breathtaking views of the old town.

14.30 From ribs to oxtail

Back in the center, it is time for lunch. Located next to the Santa María la Mayor church (7), the Carmen la de Ronda restaurant (Plaza de la Duquesa de Parcent, 10) provides a good example of local gastronomy. Converted into a small museum dedicated to bullfighter Cayetano Rivera, it offers dishes such as duck mousse with mascarpone, and ribs. And it would be a sin to leave Ronda without trying the local oxtail – the Pedro Romero restaurant (8) (Virgen de la Paz, 18) is the place to go. Close to the Casino de Ronda, where father of Andalusian nationalism Blas Infante held his first assembly, you can sample top calzones in the Michelangelo pizzeria (Lorenzo Borrego, 5). For a coffee, we recommend Las Campanas candy store (9) (Plaza del Socorro, 3), where you can try tasty local treats.

16.30 A walk with the animals

Ronda is surrounded by the Grazalema, Alcornocales and Sierra de las Nieves natural parks. Just five minutes from the city, Reservatauro (10) (Ronda-Campillos, kilometer 34) immerses visitors in holm oak meadows where fighting bulls and thoroughbred horses are raised. The Algaba de Ronda (11) (Ronda-Algeciras, kilometer 4.5) offers a route through a Mediterranean forest inhabited by Andalusian breeds in danger of extinction, including Cardena Andaluza cows and Grazalemeña Merino sheep.

18.30 Strolling back in time

The Alameda del Tajo (12) (Virgen de la Paz, 25) is a good place for a light stroll. Nearby you’ll find the bullring and the Paseo de Blas Infante, one of the best places to watch the sun go down. On the way to the Paseo de Kazunori Yamauchi, which borders the cliffs of the town, you’ll come across lively flamenco venue El Quinqué (13). After crossing the Puente Nuevo, you can easily get lost among the cobbled streets that lead to the Mondragón Palace (14) (Plaza Mondragón, 5) or the silent and mysterious Plaza de Sor Ángela de la Cruz. To recuperate after all that walking, there is nothing better than the Aguas de Ronda hammam (San Miguel, 12), right next to the old Arab baths.

21.30 Dinner with a view

For your last meal of the day continue your route along the Cuesta de la Imágenes (15). As well as coming across the Espíritu Santo church, which was ordered built by the Catholic Kings, you’ll also discover a number of places where you can eat with views of the Moorish-style Almocábar Gate. In De Locos Tapas (16) (Plazuela del Arquitecto Francisco Pons Sorolla, 7), we dare you to eat the nest of quails’ eggs with your fingers and ask for the pancetta with teriyaki sauce. A few meters away, in the Almocábar restaurant (Plaza del Ruedo Alameda, 5), you can enjoy scallops with celeriac puree and truffles and cocoa millefeuilles. If you are looking for the best views in Ronda, head to the Predicatorio restaurant (17) (Calle Empedrada), while if you need a place to stay, try either the Alavera de los Bańos (18) (Molino de Alarcón, 2) or Acinipo (19) (Blas Infante, s/n) hotels.

English version by Anne-Gaelle Sy.

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