Ronda – The heart of Moorish Spain

Andalusia is spectacularly beautiful and an ideal destination for a keen photographer. Ronda Spain, in particular, is gorgeous and has everything from classic Spanish architecture, Moorish old city, landscapes, and photogenic people. The centre piece of the town is the New Bridge (El Puente Nuevo) which spans the El Tajo Gorge, linking new Ronda with the old citadel.

The New Bridge in Ronda Spain
The Bridge at Ronda, shot at dusk

Ernest hemingway lived in ronda

On/Off resident Ernest Hemingway is thought to have based his book ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ on Ronda and the surrounding region. The classic book is an account of the struggles during the Spanish civil war, and there is a passage in which Franco sympathisers met their end in the gorge. This closely correlates with actual events during the 60’s when suspected fascists were thrown from the bridge. You can feel the drama and mystery in the rocks and stonework when you stand on the bridge.

Before any of this happened, Ronda was an Arab stronghold during the Moorish occupation of southern Spain. The castle, streets, Arab bathes, and other key buildings are all still evident. I find it fascinating how the Spanish have built on and around the old Moorish architecture in a way that seems to compliment it. There is a certain harmony in the two, opposite styles.

Stunning landscapes, Ronda Spain
The building teeter on the edge of the gorge and almost look as if they are part of the landscape, rather than built on it

Stunning landscapes

The great thing is that there are stunning views and landscapes visible from the town. You can face one way and shoot and city scape and then turn 180 degrees and shoot the sun setting over the hills on the horizon.

Orson Wells was another fan of Ronda, and often stayed there. Like Ernest Hemingway, they were drawn by the food, music, climate and colourful joy for life of the Spanish. There was another big draw, and that was bull fighting. Ronda is credited with being the birthplace of the modern bullfight. Although something of anathema to most foreigners, it was and still is, an integral part of Spanish life. The town centre is dominated by the Plaza de Torres , which was opened in 1785.

The Bull Ring in Ronda Spain
The Plaza de Torres in Ronda

In bars and restaurants it’s common to see old photos and drawings of the bullfighters and their famous guests. There are few events here nowadays but if you want to go, you have to book ahead. Photographically, the Plaza de Torres makes a great location for interesting compositions.

Streets at Dusk, Ronda Spain
Shot at dusk of the old town

Getting to ronda

Getting here is easy. The nearest main airport is Malaga and from there you can either rent a car or take the bus up to Ronda. The journey is about 1.5 hours and goes through amazing scenery as the road climbs up from the coast to Ronda. Alternatively, if you like the idea of joining in a photography tour with me, I have several workshops a year that take in Ronda and a visit to the Alhambra in Granada. You can find details here…

Tourists admire the view over the valley in Ronda, Spain
A lookout over the valley from the vantage point in Ronda

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