From Estepona, it is only a few hours drive up to Ronda in the Andalusian Mountains, a city over a thousand years old dating back to Roman times. We have also read about the beautiful and sometimes secluded white villages of Andalusia, so now that we are here we take the opportunity to make a three-day road trip up into the mountains above Estepona.
There is a car rental company right by the marina where we rent a car. The shortest period you can rent is three days and we think that is enough for what we want to see. First of all, we want to visit the historic city of Ronda dating back to Roman times when Julius Ceasar granted city rights to it. We also want to visit some of Andalusia’s white mountain villages, but we have not read about which villages are more touristy than others, so we choose to visit the villages that are on the route we choose to go. The first night we will stay at a hotel in Ronda, the second night we want to spend in one of the white villages. It is difficult to find accommodation on day 2, but in the end, we find something called a ”rural hotel” in the mountain village of Cortez de la Frontera, the visit there will be an unforgettable experience.
First, we drive to Puerto Banus to stroll down the marina for a while, we were here many years ago and want to see what it looks like now. It looks more or less as we remember it and now that we are here as long-distance sailors, we realize that there is no sailing community at all because it is mostly motorboats at the piers and the sailboats we see seem uninhabited. The price level in the marina is probably a little too high for us ordinary long-distance sailors.
We continue towards Ronda and we stop for lunch at a small restaurant (Venta El Madrono) up in the mountains by the road to Ronda. When we arrive, a group of motorcyclists leaves the restaurant, and the restaurant’s walls are filled with photos of the man standing behind the bar. In the pictures, he poses or whizzes forward on his motorcycle on winding mountain roads and race tracks. When I ask if it really is him, he tells me that it is him and that he is still racing. He tells me he has broken almost every bone in his body, but he still finds it fun to ride a motorcycle. Now that I am writing, unfortunately, I, do not remember his name.
It seems popular to ride a motorcycle on the road between Marbella and Ronda, we get overtaken and meet several groups, they also drive fast, at least compared to us who take it easy up the winding mountain roads that offer fantastic views.
As we approach Ronda which is 700 m above sea level, we enter the low clouds and it gets foggy and the road gets wet. Nice that it is plus degrees so we avoid slippery roads, it is slippery enough now when it is wet.
When we get to Ronda, we first drive through the newer districts before we enter the city center where we will live. This part of the city is located on a steep mountain ridge with a breathtaking view of the plain that surrounds the city almost 200 m below. Fortunately, when we have checked into the hotel and started our sightseeing, the clouds have lightened and the sun is shining over the town.
There is a walking path along the mountain edge, it starts/ends at the bridge to the old town and continues north to the 18th-century park Alameda del Tajo and a little further. From the promenade you have a fantastic view towards old Ronda and over the whole valley west of the city. A walk here is highly recommended if you are visiting Ronda.
Here is also the bullfighting arena from 1784, the oldest in Spain. The city has had several famous matadors, among others Pedro Romero, who is said to have killed over 5,600 bulls during his 28-year career, it is absolutely incredible.
The oldest part of Ronda has winding alleys and steep slopes. The houses are built right on the edge of the steep mountain, so the outside of those houses can not be easy to paint or repair. There are three bridges over the gorge, the older the lower they are. The ravine was formed during an earthquake 5 million years ago and is unique to Andalusia.
The Roman Bridge is the oldest and dates from Roman times. The 120 m high bridge (The New Bridge) leads into the new district and was built during the last half of the 18th century. It is mighty to stand at the foot of the bridge and look out over the deep gorge with its steep slopes. From the middle bridge (The Old Bridge) you have a fantastic view of the gorge, so a walk there is worth a little tired legs.
Inside The Old Ronda, there is a throng of narrow and winding alleys with steep slopes and stairs. We saw a few restaurants inside the city, but most were closed when we were here. Probably a combination of pandemic and low season.
In Spain and Portugal, tiles are often used to make nice signs for street names, tell about something, or as decoration.
After all the walking in Ronda, we visit one of the restaurants on the slope by the bridge. From here you have a fantastic view of the ravine, the bridge, and the plain below.
Of course, we were out when it got dark and I could not help but photograph the illuminated bridge, magnificent.
We continue the journey through the Andalusian mountains towards the next village where we will spend the night, Cortez de la Frontera. It turns out to be a very quiet village, quite the opposite of Ronda. But more on that in the next story.
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