Bridging The Gap – El Tajo – Ronda, Spain

Our second day trip out of Granada took us to Ronda, a small town up in the mountains. Christine’s friend Grace (whom she met while studying in Granada) visited Ronda a few years ago and said that it was amazing. She said that there was a hike down into the gorge, and that it shouldn’t be missed. Grace has already proven to us that she has excellent taste (TSL anyone?) – so at her recommendation, we drove the two hours to Ronda. Hey, there was a hike, how bad could it be?

Ernest Hemingway described Ronda as the most romantic town in Spain. Indeed, it is breathtakingly beautiful. The town is perched precariously on the edge of a cliff, split in half by a gorge, complete with a river and waterfalls 328 feet below. The most popular attraction is the Puente Nueva, an 18th century bridge that took 40 years to build, that joins the two parts of the town. Standing on this bridge offers panoramic views of the gorge below and the mountains in the distance. We came to exercise, so we hit the trail to hike to the bottom of the gorge. It was a short but steep hike, and we were rewarded with views from the bottom that were just as good from up above! The picture was taken about halfway down.

Before leaving Ronda, we visited the Plaza de Toros bullring, said to be the oldest bullring in Spain. It was surreal, to be walking around alone in the pit…for all of five minutes, until a Chinese tour bus showed up. Doh! We hit the road and drove out to Acinipo, where we found the ruins of an ancient Roman city first occupied in 3000 BC! This hidden gem is literally out in the middle of nowhere, on the top of one of the hills in the Ronda area. What’s left now are mostly rock piles of the ruins, the basic structure for two cabins, an Arab bath, a lordly house, and the most impressive feature – a Roman amphitheater.

The amphitheater is the largest monument on the site. It’s large enough to seat 2,000 people, and is in good condition! So much so that performances are still held there to this day, although a steel stage has been constructed above where the old stage would have been. It’s thought that the theatre was started in 65 AD and completed about 200 AD. We can’t even wrap our minds around something that old, but this place was cool, and completely off the beaten path!

From Acinipo, we started our journey back home, figuring we would stop off for lunch somewhere. Shortly into the drive, we spotted a white village in the distance with both a big castle and church on the top of a hill. Now, this part of Spain is famous for its “white towns” a.k.a. Pueblos Blancos – but this one immediately caught our attention. This town, Olvera, is where we stopped off to sit outside for a tapas lunch.

Overall, the day wasn’t too shabby! It was one of our favorite days since we’ve been in Spain. Although there was one downside…we can’t get The Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda” out of our heads!