This was supposed to be in the middle of the previous post but it wouldn't work so Ronda gets its own post.
The next day, I made an early start and headed out to Ronda. Ronda was one of the big things I really wanted to see in the South of Spain and it did not disappoint. Ronda is steeped in history, mostly because of its impossible position. Controlled at one time by the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Moors and the Spanish, the town of Ronda is perched precariously at the very top of an enormous plateau. To get a sense of scale, look at the people in the top right hand corner. Yes, there are people in picture.
Being up in the mountains, the trip there was a long one but the views made up for it.
The old town in particular is essentially an island, surrounded by sheer cliffs on all sides. There wasn't even any bridge connecting the isolated section atop the mesa to the rest of the town (obviously built on a cliff as well) until the 1700's when an enormous bridge was built across the Tajo gorge. The bridge itself is probably the biggest single draw card of the town. During the civil war, many people (including nuns) were thrown off the bridge. Fun facts. Again, look at the people standing on the bridge to get a sense of scale.
The bridge is far from Ronda's only draw, however. Ronda is one of Spain's "Pueblos blancos" or 'white towns', aptly describing the fact that all the buildings are painted white which really makes for a striking visual image (one which is difficult to capture well on my iPhone).
Being built atop an enormous cliff, Ronda also presents some truly breathtaking views out over the countryside.
There's also the Moorish gardens and water mine. When the Spanish would lay siege to Ronda towards the end of the Moorish period, the Moors would force the slaves to form a human chain to carry buckets of water up from the river at the bottom of the gorge to the townspeople above. In fact, Ronda was only captured because the Spanish discovered the water mine and prevented the Moors from accessing it.
Finally, Ronda is the spiritual home of bullfighting in Spain. Regardless of your opinions on bullfighting, the arena is pretty spectacular.
Given that Ronda is a three hour bus trip from Málaga, this was a fairly long day but worth it. I know I haven't seen much yet but Ronda is exactly how I pictured Spain to be. Hopefully the rest of Andalucia lives up just as well.