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Ronda
An important tourist spot.

Ronda prides itself on being the «city of dreams» as it was described by poet Rainer Maria Rilke. It lies more than seven hundred meters above sea level, is overlooked by a range of mountains and is nestled in among the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, Grazalema and El Alcornocales. The Guadalevín River (Wadi al-Laban in Arabic, meaning milk river) is a tributary of the Guadiaro River which divides the town in two, creating a deep gorge known as el Tajo, and it also has a one-hundred meter waterfall. Its stunning scenery, its proximity to Málaga and the Costa del Sol and the richness and splendour of the city which has close to 40,000 inhabitants, 2,700 hours of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 15 º C, all make Ronda an important tourist spot.

Historic overview

"Under Islamic domination that it began to acquire importance"

Ronda has traditionally been associated with Arunda, a neighbouring town of Acinipo, which first appeared in Plinio's writing, However, it was never more than a small settlement during Roman Times and it wasn't until it was under Islamic domination that it began to acquire importance as head of the Takurunna province with Berber settlers. Sources mention certain Berber families from the Takurunna region, such as the Banu Jalis, which provided 400 riders to Abd al-Rahman I soon after reaching the Iberian Peninsula and others who settled into the Omeya state straight away. The Muladi of Bobastro, descendants of the infamous Umar ibn Hafsún hail from this region, who stood up against the central power of Córdoba, warring against two emirs and the first Hispanic Caliph, Abd ar-Rahman III By the tenth century, Ronda was already a «very strong and very old» stronghold. However, there are many doubts about what is today known as Ronda. According to one thirteenth-century writer, the Ronda region had three population centres: a town called Takurunna, the fortress of Ronda (Runda) and the castle of Onda (Unda).

As a result of ongoing disputes between the Taifa kingdoms following the dissolution of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Ronda fell into the hands of al-Mu'tadid bi-Allah who was ruler of Seville at the time, inspiring a number of poems that talked of it being an impregnable stronghold. It subsequently became part of the Almoravid and Almohad empires. It was during the latter that Ronda really began to take shape as a town, appearing more like the fourteenth century Moorish medina it would later become than a simple place of refuge that it had been during the previous centuries. Ronda was handed over to the Meriní Kingdom of Algeciras during the early reign of the Nazrids in Granada in exchange for their support until this dynasty was forced to leave the Al-Andalus region following victory of the Spanish. Muhammad V later arrived to Ronda in an attempt to recover the throne of Granada. Ronda was attacked by Christian troops during the fifteenth century, until it was conquered by Ferdinand II of Aragon on 22 May 1485, thanks to the novel use of artillery, which took them by surprise. This conquest is illustrated in one of the lower tier of the choir stalls in Toledo Cathedral.

Busy trade hub

During his reign, the Court at Madina Runda was home to philosophers, poets and intellectuals, and became a busy trade hub whose shops and warehouses sold the most sophisticated merchandise from Morocco, Asia and Spain. Well-guarded fortresses, high towers, abundant wells and luxury residences sprung up to be later inherited by the Castilian conquerors, who transformed its churches and turned the houses into mansions.

"Ronda remained an isolated mountain town during the 19th century until its discovery by foreign travellers"

The growth experienced in the Mercadillo surburban slum during the 18th century necessitated two monumental works to save the river. The second of these, the monumental bridge over Ronda's Tagus River, the Puente del Tajo, which links the old town to the new, still remains standing today. The three sectors are configured in this way that is recognized even today: the Street Market (Mercadillo), where the enlightened rationalism of Charles III can be seen; the Ciudad or City, where the Arabic medina can be found, the most noble part; and the San Francisco neighbourhood located on the other side of the old fortress walls, home to labourers and farm workers.

Ronda remained an isolated mountain town during the 19th century until its discovery by foreign travellers at the very height of the Romantic period. Banditry and smuggling, which had thrived since the beginning of time owing to its rugged terrain and fuelled by the circumstances of the War of Independence against the French army, became an almost commercial brand in travel literature. Merimée, Ford, Gautier, Davillier, as well as the drawings by Lewis, Roberts, Blanchard and Doré, have created an image of Andalusia in general and of Ronda in particular in which the bandit, mountain maiden and brave bullfighter go hand-in-hand. As you begin your walk through Ronda, it is important to remember that there is a much richer and more complex history, behind this typical postcard image, largely due to its Arab past and the force of modernity of the Enlightenment.

C/ Virgen de la Paz 15 • 29400 Ronda (Málaga) • Teléfono: 952 871 539 • Fax: 952 870 379 • © RMR 2015 | Aviso legal