Friday, February 15, 2013

Ronda I--El Mercadillo

We drove from our home base at the Grangefield Oasis Hotel up into the mountains to see the town of Ronda. The town sits on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a small basin nestled into the mountains. We drove a bit along the Mediterranean Sea front before turning right and up.

The drive was rather nerve-racking, as the mountain tops were covered in clouds. Soon enough, we were driving through some thick, fog-like clouds on winding roads skirting the cliff edges. At least, we imagined we were skirting cliff edges because we couldn't see much beyond the car.

Luckily on the other side of the mountains the weather was much clearer and the drive was much easier, though some new roads had our GPS confused about where we were.

We parked in town next to one of the churches in an underground lot and began our adventure in El Mercadillo, the "little market" which is the newer part of town.

Ronda in tile (click to enlarge), El Mercadillo on left, La Cuidad on right

The town is divided into two parts by the Puerto Nuevo, or the New Bridge, built in the 1700s over the gorge in between the two sections. We parked by the La Merced church, into which we did not go.

La Merced church

We came quickly to the Alameda del Tajo, a park completed in 1806. The guidebook says the money for the park came from fines for indecent behavior and blasphemy. Just think how much money the American government could make off of Hollywood alone! But I digress. The views into the Tajo gorge are breathtaking here, though the fog made them less spectacular.

Alameda del Tajo

Obligatory fountain shot

Foggy view

Less foggy, looking towards town

We were unable to skirt the park's playground where the children had their usual fun.

Ronda playground

Just beyond the playground we found the bullfighting ring. The ring was built in 1785 and is one of Spain's oldest. In the 1800s, matador Pedro Romero killed 6000 bulls. In the mid-1900s, Ronda matador Antonio Ordonez counted Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway among his friends. They often visited and watched the bull fights.

The front entrance

Matador in bronze

J and the bull

Side/tourist entrance

Orson Welles Street!

We did not go into the bullring since we were too early and it was a bit pricey for just the museum. We continued on to the Plaza de Espana, home to the town hall and the tourist office. One sign in the tourist office had a rather interesting English translation.

Plaza de Espana

We found out ALL the sings had disappeared on our route

We finally came to the Puente Nuevo. Built between 1751 and 1793, it rises up 100 meters or 330 feet from the bottom of the gorge. The views were spectacular here as well, especially after we came back to our car later in the day.

Puenta Nuevo with fog

View from the bridge

The fog was gone after lunch

Yes, that's a staircase down to a patio!

View back to the Alameda del Tajo

Gorge-ous view (I had to write it eventually)

The next post will chronicle our adventures in the older part of town, La Cuidad, across the bridge.

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