I have been to many spectacular places in my lifetime, but I don’t think I’ve been anywhere quite as fantastical as Ronda, Spain. Situated among the dramatic cliffs of the El Tajo Gorge, Ronda is a small city with a deep history, a plethora of restaurants and shops, a quaint charm, and storybook views that will make you feel nostalgia for a lifetime you’ve never even known.
My husband and I were first drawn to Ronda after seeing pictures of the famed Puente Nuevo (meaning “New Bridge”) while creating a bucket list for Spain. It’s medieval look and its conspicuous mass certainly evoked a feeling of awe within us, and we were able to see it in person for the first time this past weekend.
After we completed a breathtaking drive through the Andalucía countryside, we navigated the spaghetti-thin streets of the city to find the Don Miguel hotel. The 4-star hotel is situated right next to the bridge and built into the cliffside of the gorge, so they have options for rooms with balconies that boast beautiful views. We went ahead and splurged on one of those rooms and are so ecstatic that we did.
It’s hard to pick one simple word to describe the sensation of soaking in a view like this because there were so many emotions coursing through me when I saw it for the first time. Gratitude, awe, and bewilderment all mixed together and presented themselves as a contented smile on my face while my eyes fluttered over the ancient bridge, whimsical valley and dark depths of the 120-meter gorge below. I felt as if I were in a million-dollar painting.
After we settled into our room and took some pictures on the balcony, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around the city and checking out the sights. We found a famed bullfighting ring, a park with terraces hanging over the cliff for views of the valley bellow, tight streets filled with people dining and shopping, a sushi restaurant where we stopped for a quick bite, and cliffside paths to get a stunning vantage point of the bridge in its entirety, which we were lucky enough to hit right at golden-hour. For dinner we ate at the hotel restaurant which has outdoor seating overlooking the gorge. Although I was still full from the sushi, I nibbled on a goat cheese and tomato salad while my husband munched on a huge steak that was tender and nicely charred. Although we had to call it quits early due to the cold chill the night brought, we bought some bottles of wine from a local jamón shop to enjoy in the room while we overlooked the glowing bridge.
The next morning, we quickly grabbed some “café con leches” and a light breakfast before heading off to check out the remains of 800-year-old Arab bath houses. The walk there was an adventure on its own. While walking through the city we saw two peacocks randomly roaming the streets, and then after taking a sharp turn, were surprised to find a pleasant path tracing the bottom of the city’s cliffs where you could gape at the old medieval fortress walls to your left, and absorb the stillness of the olive tree-dotted countryside to your right.
The bathhouses themselves were a miraculous wonder in architecture and technology. They were still in good shape, so you could easily imagine what it must have been like to use it 800 years ago. I think my favorite part was seeing an aqueduct that was still in fantastic shape. Ancient innovation has always fascinated me, and aqueducts were a major development. I had never seen one before in real life so I was pretty stoked about it.
After this, we trekked up a cliffside park with even more views before deciding to hit the road and head home. Ronda has certainly left an impression on both my husband and my heart, and I can’t recommend it enough as one of Spain’s more obscure gems. Like most towns in Spain, Ronda has a relaxing and pleasant charm to it where time becomes obsolete and you are forced to stay in the present, so we truly enjoyed our short trip just going with the flow and seeing where the day took us.