Ronda - Spain

March 13, 2018

Ronda is the third most visited city in Andalucia.

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Ronda (Acinipo) was first declared a city by Julius Caesar in the first century AD.

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When the Moorish troops invaded the region in 8C, they renamed the town to Izna-Rand-Onda - Ronda. The ruins of Acinipo actually sit 20Km outside of modern-day Ronda.

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As the largest of Andalucía’s white towns, Ronda is hugely popular with tourists – particularly notable when you consider its relatively modest size.

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Modern bullfighting was practically invented here in the late 18th century.

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The town’s fame was spread further by its close association with American Europhiles Ernest Hemingway (a lover of bullfighting) and Orson Welles (whose ashes are buried in the town).

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El Toro Monument

In the early 19th century, the Napoleonic invasion and the subsequent Peninsular War caused much suffering in Ronda.

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Its inhabitants were reduced from 15,600 to 5,000 in three years. Ronda's area became the base of guerrilla warriors, then of numerous bandits.

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Tapas

The Arabic baths in Ronda are the best preserved in Spain.

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Baños Arábes - Arab Baths

They were built at the end of the 13th century during the reign of King Abomelik.

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Arab Baths

The large cauldron used to heat the water is still visible and in good condition.

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Arab Baths

The star-shaped vents in the roof were modeled after the ceiling of the more famous bathhouse at the Alhambra in Granada.

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Arab Baths

The Islamic domination of Ronda ended in 1485 when it was conquered by the Marquis of Cádiz after a brief siege.  

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Puente Viejo - Old Bridge

After 1492, when the last outpost of Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula, Granada, was conquered, the Spanish decreed that all Muslims must either vacate the peninsula without their belongings or convert.  

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Puente Viejo - Old Bridge

Many people overtly converted to keep their possessions while secretly practicing their religion.

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View from Puente Viejo - Old Bridge

Muslims who converted were called Moriscos. 

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Arco de Felipe V - Built in 1742

The Palace of the Moorish King is believed to be the residence of the Moorish King, Almonated, who is said to have drunk wine from the skulls of his enemies.

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Palacio del Rey Moro y La Mina - Palace of the Moorish King and the Water Mine

Recent evidence seems to indicate that the King never actually lived in the building.

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Approaching the Palace

Today’s structure was completed in the 18th century.

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The gardens give access to La Mina (the mine), an Islamic staircase of 231 steps which have been carefully cut into the rock and lead down the river.

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For centuries La Mina was the only source of water into the city, with slaves chained to the steps to pass water bags upwards.

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This water supply was a lifeline to the Moors during the various Christian sieges.

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These steps played a vital part in Ronda’s history, it was at this point that Christian troops forced entry in 1485.

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Lacrimals - Used by Professional Weepers (Mondragon Palace)

The Mondragon Palace is home to the municipal museum and outstanding gardens.

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Palacio de Mondragón - Mondragon Palace

Built originally in 1314 by the Moorish King Abomelik, it was later used a the primary residence for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.

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Palacio de Mondragón - Mondragon Palace

The Casa de San Bosco is a modernist palace built at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Casa de San Bosco (San Bosco's House)

It belonged to the Granada family, which gave it as last will to the Salesian Priest Order as a nursing home of old and ill priests.

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Casa de San Bosco (San Bosco's House)

It has got a nice courtyard, decorated with Arab style ceramics and a complete collection of regional ceramics. You can also see 19th-century tapestries and walnut furniture.

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Casa de San Bosco (San Bosco's House)

 

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Casa de San Bosco (San Bosco's House)

Ronda is one of the few cities in the world to have a deep gorge running through the heart of the city.

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The Puente Nuevo (new bridge in Spanish) crosses the gorge to join the old Moorish town and the newer.

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Puente Nuevo

The gorge also served as the most formidable defense Ronda’s enemies have ever tried to attack.

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El Tajo gorge

Known as El Tajo, the gorge was created by constant erosion of the Guadalevín river which is fed by mountain streams and melting snow high from the mountains of the Sierra de las Nieves.

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El Tajo gorge

The gorge is quite narrow only 68 meters at it’s widest, but in places very deep, up to 120 meters.

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View from Puente Nuevo

The Guadalevín river exits El Tajo into the valley below where it was used by a number of flour mills to drive their grinders but all activity ceased in 1917 after a rock slide destroyed the mills.

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View from Puente Nuevo

If you have the time, walk down into the gorge along the Camino de Los Molinos.

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The views are the best to be had. In Spring the whole valley floor is awash with flowers.

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In 1566, the use of the Arabic language (written or spoken) was declared illegal.

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Walking down along the Camino de los Molinos

The law required that doors to homes remain open on Fridays to verify that no Muslim Friday prayers were conducted, and levied heavy taxes on Morisco trades.

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El Tajo

This led to several rebellions, one of them in Ronda under the leadership of Al-Fihrey.

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Puente Nuevo

Al-Fihrey's defeated the Spanish army sent to suppress them under the leadership of Alfonso de Aguilar.

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Puente Nuevo

The massacre of the Spaniards prompted Phillip II to order the expulsion of all Moriscos in Ronda.

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Puente Nuevo