The still-functional Baños Arabes ★ are among the best-preserved in Spain. They are on Calle Molino de Alarcón, s/n, and are reached from the turnoff to Puente San Miguel. Dating from the 13th century, the baths have glass-roof windows and hump-shaped cupolas. They’re open Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm (winter) and 10am to 7pm (summer), Sunday 10am to 1pm (winter) and 10am to 3pm (summer). Admission is 3€, free for seniors and students, and free for all on Monday.
Palacio de Mondragón ★, Plaza de Mondragón (tel. 95-287-08-18), was once the 14th-century private home of the Moorish king, Abomelic. But after the Reconquista, it was renovated to receive Fernando and Isabel, who stayed here. The Reyes Católicos had many other more grand dwellings, but few were this charming. Inside you can see a trio of courtyards and a collection of Moorish mosaics. There is also a beautiful carved wooden ceiling. A small museum houses artifacts from regional archaeology. Better than the museum is the restored Mudéjar courtyard where you can take in a panoramic view of El Tajo with the Serranía de Ronda looming in the background. Flanked by two Mudéjar towers, the building now has a baroque facade. It’s open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm (10am–7pm summer), and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm; admission is 3€, free on Wednesday.
Nearby, the Casa Palacio del Gigante ★, Plaza del Gigante, s/n. (tel. 67-863-14-45; www.turismoderonda.es), was named for the Phoenician stone sculpture in the courtyard. Displays in this small in-town Nasrid palace from the 13th to 15th centuries race through Ronda’s formation from the geological forces that created the gorge to the Iberian settlement of the city, the Roman occupation, and then the Moorish urban explosion of the 10th and 11th centuries that shaped the city you see today. The palace has been closed for renovation, but pending funding, should re-open in 2015.
One of the great wonders of Ronda is not that the Romans built the first version of Puente San Miguel at the bottom of the gorge, but that the Puente Nuevo spans the gorge at the top. The Centro de Interpretación del Puente Nuevo ★★, Plaza de España, s/n (tel. 95-287-08-18; www.turismoderonda.es), tells how it came about. The citizenry successfully petitioned the crown for a new bridge in 1542, but two centuries passed before technology advanced enough to attempt it. The first bridge on this spot opened in 1739—and collapsed in 1741, killing 50 people. The current structure was begun in 1759 and finally inaugurated in 1793. The interpretation center is located inside the bridge’s support structure. Exhibits provide an overview of Ronda’s geography and the engineering achievements necessary to construct the bridge. The center is open Monday through Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm. Admission is 2€ adults, 1€ seniors and students, free for those under 14.
Ronda has the oldest bullring in Spain. Built in 1785, the Plaza de Toros ★★ is the setting for the yearly Corrida Goyesca, in honor of Ronda native son Pedro Romero, one of the greatest bullfighters of all time and the inspiration for Goya’s bullfight etchings and paintings. The matadors all dress in the 18th-century style as depicted by Goya’s works. The bullring is a work of architectural beauty, built of limestone with double arches and 136 Tuscan-like columns. The town is still talking about the music video Madonna and entourage staged here in 1994. If you want to know more about Ronda bullfighting, head for the Museo de la Tauromaquia ★★, Calle Virgen de la Paz (tel. 95-287-41-32; www.rmcr.org), reached through the ring. It’s open daily (except days of corrida) November through February 10am to 6pm; March and October 10am to 7pm; and April to September 10am to 8pm. Admission is 6.50€, or 8€ with audioguide. Exhibits document the exploits of the noted Romero family. Francesco invented the killing sword and the muleta, and his grandson Pedro (1754–1839) killed 5,600 bulls during his 30-year career. Pedro was the inspiration for Goya’s famous Tauromaquia series. There are also exhibits devoted to Cayetano Ordóñez, the matador immortalized by Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises.
Because it was so remote, Ronda became a favorite hideout of bandits in 18th and 19th centuries. The Museo Bandolero ★, Calle Armiñan, 65 (tel. 95-287-77-85; www.museobandolero.com), recounts the history and romantic myths of these colorful characters with historic documents and photos, clothing, and weapons. It’s open in summer daily from 11am to 8:30pm and in winter daily from 11am to 7pm. Admission is 3.75€ for adults, 2.80€ for seniors and students.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.