The amazingness of Ronda in words and pictures
Years ago, while rummaging through Pinterest, in one of the millions of pictures there, I caught a glimpse of Ronda. I remember looking at it, amazed by the image of a city hanging on stunningly steep cliffs. Secretly, I must have wished to see it one day, because life, in its twisted unexpected way, made me live in Spain. So, there I was, on a cloudy September morning sitting on that very cliff, in awe. The Ronda I was seeing was exceeding my expectations A soft rain was kissing my cheeks and I was so happy, or at least felt like happiness. Reality beats any picture, regardless of how skilled that photographer might be. I found myself so often disappointed by the limitations of photography every time I take a picture because when I look at it, I see that is not even coming closer to reality.
I walked from Mirador de Ronda until Puente Nuevo scrutinizing the houses on the other side of the gorge. How must have felt like living above the abyss, contemplating it every single day? I wonder… The New Bridge built in 1759 looks like merging with the rock while pinning its feet strongly into the ground. A marvel of engineering for that time, considering that it was a second attempt to build it, the first bridge collapsed in 1741 killing 50 people. But apparently the killer role did not end there. The room behind the bridge was used as a place of torture and hanging. Also during the Civil War in Spain, both sides used that bridge to throw their opponents into the depths. Hemingway captured this incident in his novel “For Whom the Bell Toll“. It is astounding how such marvel can have such a grizzly history. This made me think that maybe sometime in the mists of time this very place had some similar usage. The new bridge is the most recognizable landmark of Ronda and it connects the old part of the city with the newer part. But I was not interested in the newer part at all.
After crossing the bridge towards the old part I let the streets capture my attention and let their mistery engulf me. I was right to do so because this way I discovered La Casa del Rey Moro or the House of the Moorish King. A fascinating place with Mudejar architecture which despite the name was never the house of a king. The house was built in the 18th century above an old water mine and the garden is from the 20th. The entire place raises so many questions but gives little answers. The impressive Water mine was dig during Arab time for the purpose of bringing water from the gorge to the city above. The most need water especially during sieges. Sadly, although useful during numerous conflicts turned out to be the Achille’s heel. A Christian slave showed to Christian armies the door that accesses the entrance to the mine and to the city. This way although impregnable Ronda was conquered. It is incredible how a strength can become a weakness changing the rules of the game in an instant. Definitely something to reflect upon. Nowadays there are few mysteries connected to the mine. Apparently, there are some stairs missing and the fact that in some rooms were conducted secret rites. Maybe hearsay, but sometimes even in hearsay, some truths may lie. The house above looks abandoned and in dire need of repairs and the garden although beautiful it needs some more investment in it. It was sold to a German consortium some years back and it was supposed to be a hotel. Today continues to degrade and it is such a pity because it is such a gorgeous building with an incredible location, full view of the canyon and Cuenca Gardens on the other side.
Continuing along the canyon I reached the Old Bridge, built in the 16th century and rebuilt probably a few times since then it served the growing city for centuries. While there, inevitable Cuenca Gardens attracted me instantly. Winding up from the old bridge to the new bridge, carved on the canyon`s wall these hanging gardens are the most astonishing feature of Ronda and the best place to watch the canyon and photograph the new bridge.
Street after the street I was walking in Ronda. They say that Hemingway, Orson Wells, Riner Maria Rilke, George Elliot fell under Ronda`s charm and I could understand why. The old part of the city still keeps that specific charm that brought them over here again and again. It is like falling in love with a beautiful woman. They remained forever bewitched. In those moments I wondered how a sunset through the eyes of an irremediable in love with Ronda looked like?
There was something about Ronda that remained stuck on my retina even after being away from there. Its uniqueness haunted my memories because somehow I felt that I did not quite catch the whole story behind it. I know that some stories are written in stone and some stories are carried through time by the word of mouth. I was hungry for stories but somehow they eluded me completely. I knew it might be more of it. It Must. If only I could have had more time. How could I? I spent only a few hours on its streets. Maybe it was not the time, because this means I have to return and I will. Return…