In the event you’re like most People, your picture of Spain is definitely the area of Andalucía, well-known for windswept landscapes, whitewashed hill cities, flamenco, and gazpacho. Whereas guests gravitate to the area’s massive cities of Granada, Sevilla, and Córdoba, Andalucía’s “Route of the White Hill Cities” (Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos) – a appeal bracelet of cute villages perched within the sierras – gives a style of splendidly untouched Spanish tradition.

Ronda, 80 miles southeast of Sevilla, is likely one of the largest of those whitewashed hill cities. It’s additionally one of the spectacular, due to its gorge-straddling setting. Ronda is straightforward to go to as a result of it’s one of many few hill cities with a prepare station. The actual pleasure for vacationers lies in exploring the winding again streets and taking within the panoramic views, gleaming white homes, and exuberant flowerpots.

Ronda’s beautiful ravine divides the city’s labyrinthine Moorish quarter and its newer, noisier, and sprawling Mercadillo quarter. The New Bridge, huge but sleek, has mightily spanned the gorge for the reason that 18th century. Look down (rigorously) into the ravine – it’s 300 toes deep and 200 toes huge.

To Spaniards, Ronda is most well-known for being the birthplace of recent bullfighting. Within the sixteenth century, two sorts of bullfighting existed: the kind with noble knights on horseback, and the coarser, man-versus-beast leisure for the commoners (with no guidelines…very similar to when WWE wrestlers convey out the folding chairs). Within the 1700s, Francisco Romero melded these two varieties, injected some guidelines, and created bullfighting as we all know it in the present day, full with scarlet cape (although bulls are literally colorblind – the purple was to disguise the blood).

Ronda’s bullring (and accompanying museum) rivals Sevilla’s as Spain’s finest. Inbuilt 1785, the two-tiered area is surrounded by 5,000 seats and 136 elegant columns to create a sort of 18th-century theater really feel. In Ronda, bullfighting is taken into account an artwork, not a sport; newspapers cowl fights within the tradition part, not on the sports activities pages. Lovers of the “artwork” of bullfighting will clarify that the occasion is about rather more than the precise killing of the bull – it’s about celebrating the noble heritage and the Andalusian horse tradition.

Ronda shouldn’t be solely about bullfighting. Drop by the Santa Maria church, constructed on the positioning of a former mosque and an earlier temple to Julius Caesar, for its attention-grabbing mixture of Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque fusion (or confusion). For a have a look at Ronda’s Moorish previous, tour the ruins of the Arab Baths, which come to life with a video. The Bandolero museum options bandit lore and paraphernalia from the time Ronda was the romantic dwelling of Nineteenth-century bandoleros – the Jesse Jameses and Billy el Niños of Andalucía. To study extra in regards to the historical past and prehistory of Ronda, tour the Mondragón Palace.

And to journey again 30,000 years, day-trip to the Pileta Cave, the very best and most intimate look a vacationer can get at prehistoric cave work in Spain. The farmer who owns the cave, and whose grandfather found it in 1905, nonetheless lives down the hill. As you stroll the cool half-mile, a information will level out the faint stays of work that are 5 occasions as outdated because the Egyptian pyramids. (As a result of the variety of guests is strictly restricted, the work are among the many finest preserved on the earth.) The Neolithic and Paleolithic drawings of black, ochre, and purple are largely simply strains or patterns, however there are additionally horses, goats, cattle, and a uncommon large fish, created from a combination of clay and fats by finger-painting prehistoric hombres.

Ronda is enjoyable after darkish. Whereas day-trippers from the touristy Costa del Sol clog Ronda’s streets through the day, locals retake the city within the early night. I benefit from the fantastic tapas scene. As a substitute of selecting one place, I do a tapa pub crawl, going from bar to bar sampling signature dishes resembling lechuguita (a wedge of lettuce with vinegar, garlic, and a secret ingredient), huevo de codorniz (a tiny piece of oily toast with a slice of ham and a fried quail egg), and asparagus on a stick sprinkled with Manchego cheese grated coconut-style. If a bar has a cardboard signal, “Hay caracoles” in its window, it’s promoting it has contemporary snails, a particular deal with served from late spring by way of early fall. At tapas bars, you’ll eat standing up, similar to the locals.

The paseo (early night stroll) occurs within the new city, on Ronda’s main pedestrian and buying avenue, Carrera Espinel. Take part. Strolling the streets, you are feeling a robust native delight and a neighborhood the place everybody appears to know everybody. And you are feeling grateful that, in your Spanish itinerary, you included Rhonda.

(Rick Steves ( writes European guidebooks, hosts journey exhibits on public TV and radio, and organizes European excursions. This column revisits a few of Rick’s favourite locations over the previous 20 years. You may electronic mail Rick at [email protected] and comply with his weblog on Fb.)

©2023 Rick Steves. Distributed by Tribune Content material Company, LLC.


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