AREA: 477,50 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 723 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 648 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 15 ºC POPULATION CENSUS 1994: 34,575
HISTORY AND LANDCAPE
The municipal district of Ronda is an authentic fort guarded by sierras with hardly any entrances, and the existent ones for traffic are situated at over 1.000 metres altitude. (Puerto del Viento, 1.190 m. on the El Burgo road; Puerto de las Navas, 1.100 m. on the San Pedro de Alcántara road, and Puerto de Encinas Borrachas, 1.005 m. on the Algeciras road).
These authentic natural walls surround the Ronda depression with horizons in which the greatness of the rocky places (which rule the land from Oreganal to Los Merinos and Líbar to Las Nieves) bring a singular beauty to the landscape. Inside this mountain range the territory is very different. The softness of the relief extends from the urban plateau of Ronda until the pasture lands of the north, passing by the bottom of the horticultural and cereal valley, which ascend from Indiana to Guadalcobacín up to the neighbouring lands of Arriate. Further away from the depression, the relief continues to be smooth in the cereal fields of Montecorto and Villalones.
The scenic importance of the municipal district of Ronda is reflected in the large extension of territory which the Special Plan for the Protection of the Physical Environment in Málaga has included in its Catalogue. As well as the lands included in the Natural Park of the Sierra de las Nieves, which this Plan protects as an Exceptional Natural Park, practically the whole of the eastern third part of the municipality is protected by various highland complexes of Environmental Interest.
A protection figure which also appears in the central third, in spaces such as the sierra de Sanguijuela-Salinas and the Sijuela valley and has its most western presence in the Tajo de Lagarín, in the limits with the province of Cadiz.
But if we had to chose any area of special scenic interest, they would be: the Cañada del Cuerno, in the Sierra de las Nieves; the Tajo de Ronda and Caldera, contempalted from the chapel of the Virgen de la Cabeza; the Garganta del Arroyo del Cupil, where the road to Seville crosses; the cork-oak forest of Bogas Bajas (which has the inconvenience of being a fenced private property) and the ravine of the Sijuel valley (the access is a dirt track with narrow stretches).
The exceptional ecological conditions of the municipal district of Ronda makes one suppose that mans presence in these lands, in prehistoric times, must have been very important, as proven by the numerous archaeological findings in its lands and the nearby surroundings. The most outstanding is the Pileta cave (in the nearby municipality of Benaoján) and the important number of dolmens found in Ronda and nearby. In the Archaeological Museum of Malaga there are various examples found in Ronda and belonging to the Bronze Age.
The first nuclei in the district seem to be joined to the presence of the Celts, who would be followed centuries later by the Tartesides, Iberians, and other settlers. Many of these settlements were taken advantage of by the Romans, some of them reaching great importance during the Empire. Such is the case with Acinipo, to which Vespasiano granted the Latin right, at the same level as towns such as Cordoba and Seville. This city, which conserves the ruins of its theatre a few kilometres away from Ronda, on the road to Setenil, was destroyed in the 5th century by the Vandals.
With the arrival of the Arabs, Ronda regained its lost importance, but this time on its new site next to the Tajo del Guadalevín. First with the caliphate and later with the Taifas kingdoms, as the capital of one of them, was one of the most important places in Andalucía from a military, political, and cultural point of view, until it fell in the hands of the Almoravides in the mid 12th century.
Alfonso XI already tried taking Ronda, but didnt succeed. It would be in 1485 that it fell in the hands of the Christians in the middle of the great offensive of Fernando el Católico to end with the Muslim rule in the lands which today form the province of Malaga. After the population crisis which followed the reconquest and the Moorish rebellion, during the end of the 17th and 18th century, Ronda reached a peak which provoked the growth of the city further from the Guadalevín rivers gorge. At the end of the 18th century, the Puente Nuevo (new bridge) was built to join the old city with the new suburbs.
During the War of Independence, Ronda was one of the most distinguished citys against the war with the French. It took two years to reduce it and after that, various organised parties continued to harass the invader from the nearby sierras. This guerrilla resistance gave way to one of the most famous and legendary bandit focuses in Spain in the 19th century.
PLACES TO VISIT
The first advise is to have plenty of time to visit the city, which is monumental in its wholeness, being obligatory for the visitor to have two or three days to know in depth, the historical-artistical legacy which Ronda forms.
Although it is hard to enunciate all its interesting corners in such as small space, the following places must be visited.
Among the most outstanding is the famous bullfighting ring, which dates from 1785. It has a large baroque front in stone, framed by Tuscan columns which hold a pediment with a royal shield.
The inside has a large arena with a stone barrier and two storeys of tiers with an identical number of arches and columns. Inside the precinct is the important bullfighting museum. La Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda was founded in 1572 by order of Felipe II and is the oldest one in Spain.
The ruins of Acinipo or Ronda la Vieja are very interesting, situated at 18 kilometres, with a Roman amphitheatre which is well conserved, and whose basic structure is carved in the rock. Acinipo had a walled precinct, a temple and other public buildings.
At one of the entrances to the city is the Puerta de Almocabar, which forms part of a complex with the old 12th century walls. Further back is the church of the Espiritu Santo, built by Isabel II over the Muslim cemetery, and which they finished building in 1505. It is a building with an austere and sober exterior. It has one nave with Gothic style vaults and thick Renaissance columns. The choir, over the entrance door is held by an arch. The high altar is in the baroque style, and is covered with paintings of the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.
The Arab baths are in the area of the old Jewish quarters, a place with abundant water where the Guadalevin and the Culebras rivers meet. Probably built in the 13th century, it has an ample building destined for the baths and an extense complimentary area, with gardens, yards and sun spots.
An impressive aspect of Ronda is the conservation of its three bridges: the Nuevo, the árabe and the romano. The Nuevo bridge is from the 18th century and is 98 metres tall.
Other points of great historical value are the palace of Mondragon, the Puerta de Carlos I, the Arco de Felipe V, the so called Casa del Gigante (Muslim palace form the 13th century), the Arabic minaret in the Abul Beka square, the palace of Savatierra, the archway Sillon del Moro, the Posada de las Animas, and the Casa Consistorial (county council).
Among the religious buildings are the Madre de Dios convent, whose primitive Mudejar structure was hidden by a baroque vault, the church of Our Lady of the Peace, the Monastery of Santo Domingo, Santa Maria la Mayor, San Francisco, the Chapel of San Miguel, the church of Padre Jesus, the small temple of the Virgen de los Dolores, the church of Santa Cecilia, Socorro, Merced, etc. taking in to account that there used to be over a hundred convents in Ronda.
The urban structure is Hispanic-Arabic, with large and irregular blocks and narrow twisted streets which open up into small squares. Divided by the Tajo river, there are defined areas, the old city, the market and the San Francisco suburb, situated in front of the Almocabar.
One has to especially emphasise the Alameda del Tajo, finished in 1806 and paid by fines for those caught for scandalous behaviour, and the Mirador del Tajo, which offers a splendid panorama and which initially gave the locals a new perspective of their beautiful geographic site
The Ronda craftsmen specialise in carvings, ceramics, and marble. There are also specialists in saddlery, leather, and esparto grass.
It is also worth mentioning the industries, such as furniture and iron forging
What to eat
Among the many typical dishes there are many based on game.
The traditional cooking includes pumpkins Ronda style, breadcrumbs fried with spicy sausage, porridge, beans in tomato, ham and garlic, green beans with blackpudding, almond and artichoke soup, gzpacho a la serrana cold soup, Ronda omelette, and caldereta stew.
Some of the most requested dishes are rabbit Ronda style, loin stuffed with pine nuts, fried goat, and pig trotter stew.
As a local wine you can try the mosto of the sierra.
The bakery from the convents is vary varied and the "yemas de Ronda", and "dulces de las monjas" are sought by all visitors.
FESTIVITIES AND TRADITIONS
The local festivities take place on the second half of May, when they commemorate the Christian conquest, and which they celebrate ever since the Catholic Kings time, with horse training competitions, and bullfighting young bulls.
The September festivities, dedicated to the mythical Ronda bullfighter, Pedro Romero, to whom the introduction of the red cape in Bull fairs is attributed, is the most outstanding festival and has reached great fame, above all for the Corridas Goyescas, when the matadors and their cuadrilla dress in the clothes from the selected era of one of Goyas paintings. Even some of the public dress up in accordance with the magic return to the past.
The Easter processions are also outstanding, the Corpus Christi, and the pilgrimage organized by the brotherhood of the Virgen de la Cabeza, which coincides with the second Sunday in the month of June. Finally, among the local folklore are the singing of malagueñas and rondeñas.