Ronda – A Fairy Tale in Andalucia

I left Granada early Wednesday morning for a day trip to Ronda. Leaving the hostel, I walked down the dark, unoccupied street and hailed a taxi to the train station. At 7am, Granada was completely quiet. A couple of people stood on the street corner, waiting for the bus to take them to the airport, but outside of those few, the city was still asleep.

I grabbed a seat on the early train, which also was fairly vacant and took the two hour ride to Ronda, a city I had read about when I first started researching Spain. As we moved through Andalucia, I watched the sun come up over the rolling desert-like hills and the fog slowly start to burn off. It was a beautiful way to see the countryside.

When we arrived, I left the train station and headed straight for the old town. Walking along the pedestrian path, the shopkeepers were getting ready to open for business and the city slowly started to come alive.

I made my way down to the edge of town and came to a bluff with a huge valley down below. For miles you could see vibrant green hills and the view was spectacular. I continued walking along the paved edge of the cliff, stopping on occassion at several miradors (lookouts) to take a few photos and take in the scenery and the El Tajo gorge below.

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Turning the final bend, you suddenly come upon a beautiful arched 18th century bridge that joins the old and new towns and the sight is absolutely breathtaking. Something out of the fairy tale, the Puente Nuevo ‘new’ bridge is a massive structure that seemingly holds the cliffs and the two areas of Ronda together.

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I continued over the bridge and into the old Arabic town, walking along cobblestone streets – stopping to view the old buildings, churches, small garden-lined plazas, orange trees and more. There were few people in the town that morning and it was as if I had it all to myself.

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Getting back on the main road, I started walking downhill towards a massive church when a horse-drawn carriage came up the hill towards me. Could this place get any more surreal?!

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I stopped for a bit to eat breakfast in a small cafe and then made my way over to the bullring. Besides it beauty, Ronda is also known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting and the beautiful bull ring was the first of its kind in Spain.

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As you make your way through massive entry, you immediately see the interior of the ring and I could easily imagine the place alive and full of energy.

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The ring’s beige interior blends perfectly into the dirt below. The cement seats had hand painted numbers, a wooden bench and seem to circle the ring endlessly. The brilliant blue sky and bright sun above created an amazing backdrop for such a dry and aged arena.

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I walked the ring and explored some of the museum-like spaces throughout. It was interesting to see the history of bullfighting and how the ring came about. There was an arms area with weapons several hundred years old and costumes for both the bullfighters and the bulls. A place of beauty despite what takes place on event days.

After the bullring, I made my way down to the north side of town and was able to get some different vantage points of the Puente Nueve. Looking down to the valley from the south, you could see several public park-like areas, smaller stone arched bridges, and rolling green hillsides for miles. Such a beautiful sight.

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As I returned to the train station to catch the afternoon train to Granada, a Japanese guy with a guitar case came outside and sat a few benches down the way. He opened up his case and began playing Flamenco music. I leaned back against the train station wall and smiled. The fairy tale had captured him too.

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