A battle ground for much of its turbulent history, beloved of artists like Ernest Hemingway, Washington Irving and Orson Welles–whose ashes were scattered there—an incredible sight for any traveller, jaded or not, Ronda and its El Tajo, astonishes, no matter how many times its pictures have appeared on web sites and in travel guides. Nothing can prepare you for the gorge and the views over Andalucia. Ronda was a Moorish city until 1485 when it fell to the Christian reconquest, its position in the mountains–685 metres above sea level, and its 1000 m gorge keeping it unassailable for much of its history. Now it is overrun with tourists, daytrippers from Malaga mostly.
We stayed in a villa–La Cancela–a lovely little house a few kilometres into the countryside north of Ronda, owned by a most accommodating English lady, a perfect entry point to the Pueblos Blancos, and to Ronda.
The bullring sits in a park in the newer part of Ronda, built after the conquest. The building itself is beautiful, elegant arches in sandstone, overlooking the arena, the same colour in the sand, except where it is stained in red. A museum in the interior outlines the history of bullfighting, containing “suits of lights”, pictures, weapons and the mounted heads of some unfortunate bulls.
El Tajo is the draw, in spite of the bullring, the shopping, the museums and churches—a “see before you die” experience”.