The setting is perhaps one of the most remarkable and most beautiful spots in the planet – Ronda, Spain. This most symbolic of Andalucia’s white towns is made distinct by the whitewashed houses making it a must-see sight for tourists coming in this part of the world. It is split in two by the spectacular chasm of the Tajo River with ancient houses hovering on the cliff top.
The vision is perfection. You would not think that same picturesque scenery stands as a silent witness to the grotesque murder of Spanish nationalists that were thrown over the cliff to the gorge that waits below. This infamous acts of brutality happened in the 1936-39 Spanish civil war. This was how The New Zealand Herald – Travel Section pictured this city in its article entitled ‘Spain: Brutality and Beauty.’
It’s easy to imagine the terrified screams of Spanish nationalists echoing from 1936, as they were tossed over a cliff into the gorge below.
Welcome to Ronda, the location of one of the most infamous acts of brutality in the 1936-39 Spanish civil war. A group of enraged leftists had set off from Malaga (birthplace of Pablo Picasso and now home to a sizeable expat British population) intent on causing grievous bodily harm to the supporters of fascist dictator Francisco Franco.
They rounded up the men, marched them to the top of the cliff and pushed them over into the gorge of the river El Tajo.
It was just one of the atrocities carried out by both sides in a bitter war that still causes pain for Spanish people today.
The narrow bridge, Puente Nuevo, stands at a dizzying height – 120m, or 30 stories, from the bottom. I did get a little vertiginous while holding my camera over the edge and taking photos blindly, hoping for the best.
Could Ronda be the Twin Peaks of Spain? A bloodthirsty underbelly with a picture-perfect surface?
This Andalucian attraction remains off the beaten track and perfect place for adventure travelers to this day. These days, the only sign of its vicious past is in Ronda’s bullring, the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, Spain’s oldest. It was constructed in 1779 and was finished in 1785. The place comes to life each summer as well as in autumn during the Corridas Goyescas festival. This time, the ruthless fighting is between men and beasts.
For people fascinated with history, the bullring also promises a glimpse of the past with the museum attached to the bullring. The museum is a testimony of bullring chronicles of its past events, matador costumes, and equipment including grotesque -looking, archaic bridle with spiky metal projections. If you are in awe at the obedience of horses used during the fight, this explains the painful submission of the horses during the bullfight.
There are other beautiful and delicious reasons to go to Ronda. Find out more about it in Ronda, Andalucía: The perfect break from Telegraph’s Travel – Destination Section. According to the author, Anthony Jefferies, “The Spanish mountain town of Ronda is the home of bullfighting – but its dramatic scenery and fine restaurants are the real delights.”
The article is perfect for travelers who want to see this beautiful and historic Spanish City. It tells travelers how to travel to this destination and where to stay which suggests three rural retreats, namely: Hotel la Fuente de la Higuera, Hotel Montelirio, or Hotel San Gabriel.
How do you spend your day in Ronda and where can get a bite of the delicious Andalucian cuisine?
In the morning, take your time visiting the beautiful Plaza de Toros and its museum for a good insight of Spain’s bloodiest traditions. There is also the Museum of Bandits which has a fine collection of slightly gruesome accounts and exhibits, and town museum that is housed in the lovely Palacio de Mondragón, with its distinctive Moorish courtyards and trickling fountains.
At lunch, visit Restaurante Escudero for a taste of the best cuisine in Ronda. The Menú del Día, a set lunch menu, is superbly valued and serves three courses with picadillo soup, stuffed aubergines, and water or wine. For tapas, go to Tragatapas, and for grilled meats, the best is El Campillo that sits on a leafy clifftop.
By sundown, do not miss Tragabuches Restaurant for your dinner. Enjoy their ala carte menu that consists of noodles with octopus sashimi, liver and goat’s cheese in green apple yarrow, or pork cheeks in pear purée. If you want a less elaborate fare, Restaurante Almocábar is a delicious and simple alternative with its salads, inventive fish dishes, and seafood like squid rings stuffed with chives and truffle.
Ronda is a nice place to stroll around with its Moorish palaces and to shop for souvenirs. But, do not buy from the new town where everything is expensive. Instead look for the artisan stores and workshops in the old town. If you still have the energy, get into a car and drive through the mountain ranges to the lakeside village of Zahara de la Sierra or drive south to swanky Marbella. Your alternative is to drive the following day; instead, stay up the night in Ronda’s small clubs – Plaza Carmen Abela, Plaza del Socorro and Plaza Ruedo Alameda
With these beautiful and savoury experiences, you wouldn’t think that brutality used to rein here.