Ronda: A Historic Gem in the Heart of Andalusia

Mount Ronda rises to an elevation of 730 meters above sea level and is home to the tiny city of Ronda in the province of Malaga.


This unique city, full of important historical events, today has a population of about 40,000 and covers an area of ​​481 km². The natural landscape in which Ronda is located is unique, mainly determining its history. Today, Ronda is considered one of the most picturesque cities in Andalusia, as well as the heritage of Spain and a place of numerous pilgrimage for tourists from all over the world.

Today, Ronda consists of two parts: the Old City (Spanish: Ciudad) and the New City (Spanish: Mercadillo), each located on a rocky plateau. These plateaus are cut by the deep Tajo de Ronda gorge, at the bottom of which, at a depth of 100 meters, the river Guadalevín flows. The Old (XIII century) and New (XVIII century) parts of the city are connected by the New Bridge (Spanish: Puente Nuevo), which is considered today, the symbol of the town. It should be noted that in some places, the depth of the Tahoe Gorge, which cuts Ronda into two halves, reaches 300 meters.

Ronda: The History of The City

Ronda has an ancient and eventful history. Modern historians and archaeologists claim that the first settlement on the territory of modern Ronda existed as early as the 6th century BC and was founded by the Celts. The Celts who lived in this place called their settlement Arunda. Following the Celts, the Greeks came to this territory, renaming Arunda to Runda. A critical stage for the city was the period of the Roman Empire. During the reign of the great emperor Gaius Julius Caesar, Ronda officially received the status of a town. As a result, Ronda gained importance during ancient Roman rule, becoming a relatively large shopping centre.

Ronda Bridge
Ronda Bridge

Upon the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 A.D., Ronda became the capital of one of their emirates. The assault of the Arab army on the Iberian Peninsula was brilliant in its speed and efficiency. In just one year, the Arabs could take over almost all of what is now Spain and Portugal. Lots of different cities all gave up without a fight at the same time.

Ronda is just one of those cities that meekly handed the keys to their gates to the Mauritanian army. The Arabs renamed it their way, calling it Rand Onda, which means "city with a castle" in Arabic. This name was due to the presence of a castle built earlier on the city's territory, which was called Laurus. Ronda had a unique natural defence: deep sheer cliffs surrounded most of the old town, and only the southern and eastern parts needed fortifications. Later, it was precisely this circumstance, as well as the sufficient distance of Ronda from other cities of Andalusia and the coast, that allowed this city, lost in the mountains, to remain in the power of the Muslims for as long as possible. In contrast, most of the towns of Spain had already been recaptured by Christian troops.

Ronda City Walls
Ronda City Walls, photo by

While the rest of the Iberian Peninsula was freed from Arab dominion in 1492, it was not until 1485 that the Reconquista reached Ronda. Ronda was a formidable obstacle for the Christian armies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella since it was a walled city, and the nearby Mina water spring supplied the city's Arab inhabitants with water.

The city fathers recognized the importance of protecting this supply to their continued existence and did all in their power to do so. Christian forces could not take Mina until they severed the city's water supply. When the Christian army laid siege to Ronda, the fact that it had almost no defenders was a significant help. The Emir of Malaga had made a distress call many days previously, prompting the commander of the Arab soldiers in Ronda to dispatch his whole force to the Emir's help.

There were, therefore, just inhabitants and a tiny military presence left in Ronda. On the other hand, the Arabs eventually capitulated and turned over control of the city to Christian authorities following a protracted siege.


Many Spanish cities were looted during Napoleon's army's invasion, much as numerous cities in other nations. Ronda was no exception, as several structures with significant cultural significance suffered damage.

For Ronda and its inhabitants, the next significant era was the era of bandoliers (robbers), who found shelter in the mountains and gorges of a secluded city. This phenomenon was so massive in the 18th - early 20th centuries that a particular museum was even built-in Ronda, reflecting the life and customs of the robbers and collecting a collection of weapons and bandolier utensils.


Ronda has a rich ancient history associated with the presence of different civilizations on its territory. This could not but be reflected in the architectural structures of the city, which he inherited. Let's mention the main ones.

  • In Ronda, the Puente Nuevo bridge stands out as the city's most famous landmark (New Bridge). From here, one can see the "Old" and "Arab" bridges to the east. For many years, this central New Bridge building served as the city's incarceration facility.
  • Arab baths of the XIII-XIV centuries with three halls perfectly preserved to our time.
  • Puerto de Almokabar (Gate of Almokabar) is the principal city gate, perfectly preserved to this day, known for the fact that it was through them that Fernando of Aragon entered his troops in 1485, recapturing the city from the Muslims.
  • The Walls of the Old City are also of interest, which protected it from the side of the plain.
  • It wasn't until 1485 that construction began on Santa Maria la Mayor Church. It replaced an earlier mosque from when the area was under Moorish authority, and one of the original mosque's towers was incorporated into the new structure. Currently serving as both a temple and museum, the church's collection of works is of significant aesthetic importance.
  • Palacio de Mondragon is famous for the fact that after the conquest of Ronda by the troops of Christian kings, it served as the royal residence of monarchs.
  • The Church of the Holy Spirit was built by order of the Christian kings Ferdinand and Isabella to commemorate the city's reconquest from the Arabs.
  • Casa del Rey Moro (House of the Moorish King) was built in the 13th century on the foundations of a Moorish palace.
  • A passage, cut out in the solid rock, with 365 steps down to the bottom of the Tajo de Ronda canyon may be found to the left of the House of the Moorish King. The Mina spring was once carefully guarded because it provided the city's water supply.
  • Mondragon Palace - a building in 1314 that served as the residence of the Moorish king Abd el-Malik.
  • Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra (Palace of the Marquis of Salvatierra) with a facade decorated with images of biblical heroes and Indian figures.
  • The Minaret of San Sebastian is a minor basilica, formerly a Muslim minaret that once belonged to a mosque built in the 14th century.
  • Church of the Iglesia de la Virgen de la Paz
  • Church of the Iglesia de la Merced.
  • Church of the Iglesia del Socorro.
  • House of San Juan de Bosco.
  • With a circumference of 66 meters, The Bullring, or Plaza de Toros as it is known in Spanish, is the largest bullring. It was built in 1785. Beyond the arena's gates are museums dedicated to Tavromachia and medieval weapons.
  • Museo del Vino (Wine Museum).
  • Museo del Bandolero (Museum of the Robbers) with exhibits reproducing the life of the robbers.

Things to do in Ronda:

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