The full natural drama of RONDA, rising amid a ring of dark, angular mountains, is best appreciated as you enter the town. Built on an isolated ridge of the sierra, it’s split in half by a gaping river gorge, El Tajo, which drops sheer for 130m on three sides. Still more spectacular, the gorge is spanned by a stupendous eighteenth-century arched bridge, the Puente Nuevo, while tall, whitewashed houses lean from its precipitous edges.
Much of the attraction of Ronda lies in this extraordinary view, or in walking down by the Río Guadalvín, following one of the donkey tracks through the rich green valley. Birdwatchers should look out for the lesser kestrels nesting in the cliffs beneath the Alameda; lower down you can spot crag martins. The town has a number of museums and, surprisingly, has sacrificed little of its character to the flow of day-trippers from the Costa del Sol.
Ronda divides into three parts: on the south side of the bridge is the old Moorish town, La Ciudad, and farther south still, its San Francisco suburb. On the near north side of the gorge, and where you’ll arrive by public transport, is the largely modern Mercadillo quarter.