New is a relative term. Puente Nueva means new bridge and describes Rondas main attraction and spectacular bridge that links the town where the earth has been eroded, dividing the town in two. It was completed in 1793 and was the third attempt to bridge the gap, the previous attempt collapsing and killing 50 people. The incredible landscape is formed in such that Ronda sits on a hill which drops in a cliff edge, 100metres down into fields and arable land. The soft rock just comes to an end, and where hotels and restaurants sit above, the towns perimeters are decided steeply.
My hostel was at the bottom of said cliff, down a small cobbled road. It was an interesting choice with a suitcase. Alice, a girl in my ride share, was also staying there, and as the sky turned pinker we both made our way slowly down. The bedroom window from the hostel looked up at the illuminated bridge, a breathtaking site. It closed the gap between the two sides of the town and is 98 metres high, with the river continuing to run below, appearing below the bridge as a waterfall, as the land continues to drop away.
After a short night at the hostel, me and my suitcase made our way back up the hill, this time being directed through the straw fields rather than winding up the road. It is the s trangest hike I have ever done, but kept the bridge in site all the time as I gained height quickly. It was hard to take my eyes off this magnificent structure with its film like beauty. Even in the early morning, I was hot by the time I got to the top of the hill. I made my way to the bridge. I wanted to go inside. The little room, signified by a door, in the centre of the underneath of the bridge was a little room which housed a museum on what life was like before, famous people who had known and loved the bridge, etc. Previously to room had had more sinister use during the civil war as a torture room. It was a strange tribute and a toe tingling lookout.
The land on the right side of the bridge is the old town, and passing through its picturesque treats there are more surprising treats to be found. I came across the Gardens de Rey Moro and decided I was intrigued enough to pay the €3. Some beautifully ornate courtyard gardens led on to a gate, which led on to an underground passage, which just kept going.
Steps took me down and down, zigzagging then emerging into rooms which were used by the moorish King in preparing defence in case of attack. Ronda was a strategic point on the trade route between Morocco and Córdoba, and a Muslim stronghold like much of Andalucia. The walls had several windows in them and served different purposes, for hiding or for bringing water up to the city by a chain of slaves.
I emerged at the bottom at water level and was surprised to have descended that far through caves, dripping with water from the ceilings. The water was clear and enticing, and the city on the hill stood looking over it. What an incredible, modest little find.
From the other side of the gardens, the streets gave way to view after view. The hills were home to olives and horses, the cobbled streets had old churches and gates from the old entrance to the city. I followed the old route and came to the Roman Bridge, although it is more likely from Moorish town. By this, the old town entrance, there is the Arab baths, built here for the cleansing of anyone entering the city. I went in to the brick rooms, built under the ground. The fiery furnace used to heat the steam for bathing is still intact.
In a town proud of its artistic talents, I walked through the old towns small streets to find the museum of Joaquín Peinado. A small display of his artistic works was shown alongside Pablo Picasso, also from Malaga, there must be something in the wine down here!
With a fondness for this little white town, and blown away by its spectacular surroundings, I waited in Plaza de Espanã for my next ride, on to Sevilla.
Where to stay: Albergue los Molanes was a fabulously located hostel which included breakfast, win!
How to get around: Not many buses service the town, so carpooling is the way to go!
Centre of Interpretation of Puente Nueva, Banos Arabs/Arab Baths, La Casa del Roy Moro & Museum de Joaquín Peinado