After a tour of the gardens, we enter to the ancient water catchment mine of Arab origin and dating from the 14th century. It is a complex Islamic work that descend the ravine through which flows the Guadalevín river. It was built under the orders of Muslim King Abomelic who used hundred of Christian captives for its excavation. Through a cleft in the rock, a staircase of 236 steps was carved vertically on 60 meters. Once inside, we discover a set of different rooms and halls (sometimes with one or more windows), from simple water tanks to homes, sometimes used as powder room or grain deposit. Once arrived at the bottom, on the platform at the edge of the river, we found ourselves a few meters away from the place we were before when walking below the bridge. Impressive ! We feel so small between these huge rocks! Both ways up and down proved to be a little bit chaotic, as the stone is wet and very slippery in some places due to water infiltration. Watch your steps! Oh, and also note that the Palace itself is currently closed to the public and only the gardens and the “mine” can be visited, which is quite enough!
We now walk down the cobbled stone street to the Arab baths. In doing so, we pass under the Gate of Philip V, one of the main gates of the old town. After the collapse of the first “New Bridge” in 1741, this access to the old town was then very popular until the completion of the current New Bridge in 1793. Once at the bottom of the town, we arrive in front of the Arab baths, obviously closed on Sundays. Well, these are the risks of traveling on weekends, but from what we can see from the outside, we do not necessarily miss much. We then ascend towards the New Bridge by taking the Tannery Bridge and the Old Bridge.
The first is of Arab origin and dates from the 13th century. This was one of the first points of union between the two sides of the “Tajo de Ronda”. It was it which made possible the expansion of the city beyond the rift and access to the River Guadalevín for livestock watering. Over the years, artisans working in the textile and leather industry settled in the area, hence the name of the bridge. The second one, the Old Bridge, has its first historical reference after the reconquest of Ronda by the Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, but its origin is controversial. For some, it is of Roman origin and later rebuilt by the Arabs, and for others, it is a Muslim construction.
Just after the Old Bridge, on the left is the beginning of the path leading through the Gardens of Cuenca, an ideal way to go up to the city’s heights through a very nice landscape, not to mention the view from the edge of the cliff ! Once on the heights, you can even see the New Bridge! The place is decorated with trees and benches, and we take quite our time to admire the panorama. Once back next to the New Bridge, we mark a break in the Plaza de España (Spain Square) where we have an icecream. We can definitely feel the tourism aspect in the area just by looking at the prices!
The time to get to the train station for our journey back to Granada approaches, but we still have some time to walk for a while in the streets of the new town, especially in the Plaza del Socorro, one of the most popular square in Ronda with many cafes and restaurants on one side and a beautiful parish church on the other – Socorro Parroquia de Nuestra Señora. And it is finally back on the platform of Ronda’s train station that our trip comes to an end. Our train leaves the city at 5.30PM and arrive about 2:30 later in Granada.
It was simply a beautiful day! The sun was up all day, the different panoramic views kept us busy, Nozomi, myself and our cameras, the food was exquisite and I honestly had such a great time there! Ronda is a must see and spending a night there seems worthwhile to me if you want to enjoy all the wonders offered by the city in a nice rhythm of discovery, without necessarily having to run around. Remember to have lunch at Casa Maria, you will not regret it!