Cobbled street

When I was in Spain with my sister in 2002 we visited the town of Ronda after which getting around became rather difficult for me.

On the second night of our 2002 stay at Club la Costa there was a welcome and information meeting. We were informed of the facilities at the Club and a variety of excursions that we could enjoy. We decided to do 2 of these, one to Ronda and another to Gibraltar.

Cobbled streetAn old cobbled street in Ronda

In 2002, to get to Ronda, we first were transported by bus from the resort to a train station. The train, which was rather old and rickety making quite a lot of noise, took us through some absolutely beautiful mountain scenery which was not surprising as Ronda is a mountain top city almost 800m above sea level. On arrival we walked down the hill to start our guided tour. Halfway down the hill I slipped and broke my right leg and the only other part of Ronda that I saw that day was the inside of an hotel reception area waiting for the group to return 2 hours later!

Being in the area a second time, I was determined to see this much talked about town, having already known some of its history. We almost did not as Trevor had become tired of travelling and wanted to be less active. After a day of very little activity yesterday, he changed his mind a bit. There were various reasons for this such as the pool being renovated, the topography of the resort was very steep making walking quite a task and the books in the library were all in Spanish, with the exception of Mills & Boone by the dozen. Thus, we decided to use our Rail Pass and go to Ronda the next day.

How much can change in just 14 years is quite amazing. Once again we had to purchase seat reservation tickets even though we had a Rail Pass; another 4 euros each per trip = 16 Euros. Note that there are no discounts for Senior Citizens with a Pass as this is given on purchase of the Pass. Another difference was that, instead of getting a bus to a small train station, in 2016 we caught the bus into Fuengirola and then the Locale to Malaga Main Station. From there, once having purchased our seat reservations, we went through the tight security system and finally on to the platform for the train to Ronda.

This time, travel was on a much more modern train which travelled much faster. It was a 2 hour trip with the same mountain scenery but this train did not have to battle up the mountain passes as the previous one had to do. We also did a quite interesting thing. The train went into the station of a small town, passengers got on and off and we then travelled back to the “intersection” where we had tuned off to the little town. It was a strange feeling seeing the same scenery from the other side within minutes.

We arrived in Ronda in a little less than 2 hours and I found the town very different. It is really amazing how much things can be changed in just 14 years. I use the phrase “can be changed” instead of “can change” deliberately as most of the changes were man-made cosmetic changes. Instead of a small, cramped station we alighted from the train into a modern, beautifully designed hall with the times of trains in and out prominently displayed, ablution facilities and even a food stall.

Ronda, which was part of the Roman Empire, was declared to be a city in the 4th Century by Julius Caesar and was given the name of Ronda or Acinipo. The Moors later renamed it Izna-Ran-Onda-Ronda with the ruins of Acinipo about 20kms outside Ronda.

On leaving the station, we discovered that in place of the narrow cobbled streets which I remembered there were now wide, tree-lined tarred streets. No way that I wilI slip and break my leg now. My memory told me that we had to turn right and then go down the hill to the ‘new old’ bridge called the Puento Neuvo. In the mid-18th Century it became necessary to build a new bridge from the old town which was on 1 side of the El Tajo Gorge and a new town was developing on the other side. The old old bridge had connected the 2 sides of the 120m gorge for over 1500 years and was no longer safe.

Down into the gorgeLooking down into the gorge

El Tajo gorge that carries the rio GuadalevnEl Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through Ronda

We crossed the Puento Neuvo and entered the Old City. Each time we explore these old parts of a city I am enthralled by how well they have been preserved. I believe that South Africa doesn’t have such architectural beauty for 2 reasons – very few buildings in South Africa are more than 300 – 400 years old and, although we have a Department for the Preservation of Buildings of more than 60 years, many people seem to ignore them when purchasing a relevant property and simply demolish and build as they wish. What we are told is that Durban has some of the best 1920s Art Deco buildings in the world and these are in the process of being refurbished.

Drinking tapsDrinking taps in the Old City

This Old City of Ronda was truly fascinating especially as it had developed with representatives from a number of traditional and religious peoples over centuries. We really enjoyed walking around the old city, looking at the old wells and designs of the old and well maintained homes of which they are all so proud, but ouch, the hills are steep.

Church of Santa Maria bell towerChurch of Santa Maria

Espiritu SantoThe Church of the Holy Spirit

Felipe V ArchArch of Felipe V

We returned to the New Town by crossing the Puento Neuvo and walking up to the viewing site where there was a gazebo under which a harpist was playing lovely gentle music. It was all over and around this viewing site that I could see the changes which had taken place. The viewing area is now all paved and fenced with strong wire. This made it much easier to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the gorge but it also took away the sense of natural beauty and awe.

Harpist at the gazeboThe gazebo with the harpist to the right

Orchards across the gorgeOrchards across from the gorge

Road winding through the valleyThe road winds through the bottom of the gorge

We sat under the gazebo and ate our lunch while listening to the music and then walked slowly around the whole area taking in the awesome beauty of the gorge. As much as we wanted to visit the bullring, which is no longer used for bull fighting, it was getting late and it was also rather expensive. We cheated and took a photo of a poster in the entrance.

Statue of a bullStatue of a bull outside the bullring

Tribute to writersMonument to writers

Paintings of the bullringPaintings of the bullring and related items

And so ended our day in Ronda which anyone, who is in the vicinity, should visit. I have just remembered, we got delicious LARGE ice creams in cones for just €1 while roaming the Old City. With all the alterations to the streets it took us a while to find the right one to get back to the station where we arrived just as a train which was to return to Malaga was coming into the station.

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