I will admit it was a struggle to get moving this morning, as it was only just light and cold outside, but eventually we made it to Ronda, one of the most visited Pueblo Villages in Spain.
The Puente Nuevo bridge drops a staggering 100 meters to the gorge floor and its iconic image symbolises not only Ronda, but also Spain. Although the bridge is referred to as the ‘new bridge,’ it was actually completed in 1793, making it the newest and largest of the three bridges that span the El Tajo Gorge.
King Phillip V commissioned the first Puente Nuevo bridge to be constructed across the highest point of the gorge. Unfortunately, its hasty construction over an 8 month period, resulted in a poorly built bridge which collapsed in 1741, killing around 50 people in the process.
Following the collapse of the bridge, a second bridge was commissioned and its construction began in 1759, taking 34 years to complete. The bridge spans 70 meters across the gorge and at it’s highest point it stretches 98 meters from the bottom of the ravine to the bridge. Stone from the gorge was used to construct the bridge, enabling it to connect the modern town to the historic old Moorish town, La Cuidad. Certainly when you look at the bridge from the bottom of the gorge, it is truly an engineering feat to have created it.
Another interesting fact about the Puente Neuvo Bridge is that it contains a room or chamber in the central arch of the bridge, that at one point was used as a prison. During the civil war between 1936 – 1939, it is believed that both sides used the prison as a torture chamber and that some of the prisoners, met a rather unfortunate end plummeting to the bottom of the gorge, after having been thrown out of the window. The former prison can be visited and now houses an interpretation center on the bridge’s history and construction.
To reach one of the lookout points (miradors in Spanish) you pass through the Plaza de Toros, the second oldest bullfighting ring in Spain. The Bullfighting Ring was constructed in 1785, with a two tiered seating area for spectators. This area’s claim to fame is having created the present day rules for bullfighting, during the 18th and 19th century, by the Romero dynasty of matadors (Francisco, Juan, and Pedro). On the pathways near the ring are the names and images of various famous bullfighters, including the Romero’s.
After visiting the miradors at the top of the bridge we began the descent down to view the two older bridges, stopping at a couple of other miradors on the way.
The next bridge as you head down the gorge is the Puente Viejo or the Old Bridge, makes sense. This bridge was constructed during the 16th century and is a single arch bridge. On one side of the bridge is the Felipe V Arch, which would have been the only entrance into the La Ciudad from that end in town. The small wrought iron balconies were an 18th century addition to this pedestrian only bridge.
The final bridge is the Puente de San Miguel and is a Moorish bridge, although it was abandoned when the Puente Viejo was built. This bridge is often referred to as the Roman Bridge, as it is believed to have built on the foundations of a previous Roman Bridge. After Max and I reached the third bridge, it was of course time to start the arduous climb back up.
While there are a lot of beautiful plazas and of course cathedrals, we opted to take the journey down the ancient roads to the bottom of the gorge in our little Peugeot, to really get an idea of what an amazing construction was done on the bridge. Going down the hill was okay, but trying to find somewhere to turn the car around on the single lane road that was not flat, was somewhat of a challenge for Andrew.
After returning to our house in Olvera for lunch and a rest, the kids and I headed up our steep little street, dodging cars as we went to reach the castle.
Unfortunately as it was a public holiday, so the castle was not open, oh well, I’m sure the kids were pleased that they didn’t have to climb the steep staircase. So we wandered around the cathedral and admired the castle from afar.
Plaza de Torros
The day we visited was the Three Kings Holiday, so it was not possible to tour the bullfighting ring and you can view bullfighting but only during the summer season.
- Individual € 7 │ Audio guide: €8.50
- January – February: 10 am – 6 pm │ March: 10 am – 7 pm │ April to September: 10 am – 8 pm │ October: 10 am – 7 pm │ November to December: 10 am – 7 pm
- Closed on bullfighting days in September and to celebrate the Festival of Pedro Romero
Official site: http://www.rmcr.org/es/english.html
Interpretation Centre of the New Bridge
A museum that shows us the history of the bridge that connects the city.
- € 2 euros for tourists.
- Monday to Friday: 10am to 6pm
- Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays: 10am to 3pm