We stayed for two nights in Ronda, a famous Spanish White Village with a awesome bridge, Puente Nuevo. On the first day we drove for about 130 km from Seville to Ronda, near the last part of the journey we detoured to Grazalema, a scenic Spanish White Village in the mountain. On the second day in Ronda we drove northward to Setenil another unique Spanish White Village which was built in between/ under huge rocks.
Grazalema, Ronda and Setenil were each very unique and special and we had a great time visiting all three of them.
The drive from Seville to Grazalema was 117 km and the trip took 1.75 hour. The journey took us over several sunflower fields and we had never seen so many sunflowers before. It was not just meadows of sunflowers it was many hill-full of sunflowers. It was amazing to see endless stretch of sunflowers all fully bloomed.
Just before the Grazalema was a carpark (parking 1), though it had plentiful of parking spaces we did not want to park there as it would be a 1 km walk in the hot sun into the village. We drove into Grazalema, the village roads were not very wide which made road side parking not possible. We drove on to Parking 2 but it was full. We drove on to Parking 3 which was also full. We waited at Parking 3 waiting for some visitors to return to their cars and drive off. After 5 minutes we saw a few visitors coming down a slope and they told us that if we drove up the loop of the road we would find more parking lots. Great!
Parking 3 actually had two sections, a lower section and an upper section. The upper section was after the loop of the road and indeed there were several empty lots. Parking was free.
Near the upper section parking (co-ordinates: 36.757905, -5.363308 ) was a great view point of the village. We could see the beautiful white houses and their “clay” color rooftops aligned in similar direction. Grazalema was lodged in a highvalley (800 m), situated in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountain range towered over by Penon Grande
Between the upper and the lower sections of Parking 3, just at the road loop there was another viewpoint, Mirador Grazalema. This view point looked outward away from the village into the valley beyond. We could see the windy road where we had came from to arrive at Grazamela. The vast land beyond were dry and brown which was a natural color of June in this area.
Mirador GrazalemaDirectly next to the viewing platform of Mirador Grazalema was a cafe/restaurant and it also had a swimming pool at its lower deck. Who would have thought of finding a swimming pool here. The pool looked so blue and inviting unfortunately we did not have our swimming gears with us!
The cafe beside the Mirador was named as Mirador El Tajo Gastrobar so we were not too sure if the viewing platform’s name was Mirador Grazalema (as indicated on google map) or Mirador El Tajo.
Whatever was the name of this Mirador (viewpoint) was not important, we were only too glad to walk into a cool cafe for cafe latte, cheese cake and a beautiful view. The cheese cake of Spain was more like cheese custard with sweet syrup on top. Once the syrup was swept aside the cheese custard tasted pretty good. Our bill came up to €1.50 per cup and €3 fro the cheesecake.
We left Grazalema at about 3 pm and drove 34 km to get to Ronda, the drive took about 45 minutes. The drive was not too long and was a pretty easy drive.
Ronda was a mountain top town in Spain. It was first settled by the early Celts and later inhabited by Phoenicians, Greek and Romans. Then was occupied by the Moors and fell to the Christian in 1485. Ronda retained much of its historic charm particularly its old town.
We drove passed our “stay” and there was no parking nearby. The street was narrow and bollards were installed by the sides of the road to make parking at the sides not possible. We decided not to check in but to proceed onward to a Bridge view point near the base of “Puente Nuevo”. From Ronda town, it was a 8 km drive to near the base of the gorge.
For a while we were not sure if we were on the right road, and the road was pretty “raw and rough” at some stretches. Finally we arrived at our destination (co-ordinates: 6.738953, -5170288). We parked our car on a wide piece of land and came out to explore that when we saw a signboard and we knew we found the viewpoint we were looking for.
There were a couple of tracks that brought us nearer to the bridge. We took the left track which went near to the base of the bridge. The bridge certain looked impressive when seen from bottom up. There was another track that went right and sort of went upslope. We also went that way and took a couple of pictures. It seemed that the upward track would lead all the way up to Ronda, which meant for those that did note drive they did not have to walked 8 km to this place.
The Puente Nuevo (“Bridge New”) was the newest and largest of three most important bridges in Ronda. It spanned the 120 m deep gorge, El Tajo, that carried the river Guadalevin. The construction of this bridge started in 1759 and took 34 years to complete. There was a chamber above the central arch which was used for a variety of purposes. During the 1936-1939 civil war, this chamber was used as a torture chamber and some prisoners were killed by throwing them out of the window into the gorge!
After viewing Puente Nuevo from the base of the gorge we returned to Ronda to view the bridge from above. The top of the bridge was just a road with buildings on both sides . The bridge was 66 m long and 98 m tall from base to top. It was built to replace an earlier bridge which collapsed in 1741 under the stresses of heavy traffic, killing about 50 people. This bridge provided a direct route between two sides of town separated by the deep El Tajo Gorge.
The best view of the bridge was not directly on the bridge but on somewhere along the gorge edges on both sides of the bridge. There were walkways and cafes on the gorge edges and wherever we were permitted to trek we explored them. Along these paths we were able to see two bridges, the larger and magnificent Puento Nuevo and another smaller bridge Puento Viejo.
On the rooftop balcony of our “stay” (studio apartment) we also had a great view of Puente Nuevo. We chose the “stay” precisely for its view of Puente Nuevo. Unfortunately we made a mistake of not chosing its larger apartment which had a better view of the bridge.
The rooftop balcony became our favourite place at our stay for two evenings. It was amazing to see Puento Nuevo under the evolving colors of the sky above it.
free Parking in Ronda
Before arriving at Ronda we had checked with our host regarding parking and were told that our stay did not provide onsite parking and garage parking in the town would cost about €20 a day, There we some slightly cheaper parkings but they were further away.
We were pleasantly surprised to find FREE street parking some 600m from our stay. These were parkings by the sides of the road with NO MARKING. Usually “Blue marking” meant paid parking, “yellow marking” meant no parking and “white marking” meant free parking. But in this case there was “NO marking” which also meant free parking. Just to be on the safe side we checked with a local walking by to make sure that it was not illegal to park by the side of the road.
On our first day in Ronda we parked our car along Calle Molino (co-ordinates: 36.745850, -5.167434) and on the second day after we returned from Setenil we parked along Calle Pozo (co-ordinates : 36.744875, -5.166157). Parkings were free and we even left our car there overnight. The walk from the parking to our stay was about 600 m which was not an issue since we were not dragging our bags with us. During check in and check out we drove our car right to just outside our “stay” to off-load our bags and load our bags into the car.
Plaza de Toros de Ronda
Near the bridge, Puente Nuevo was a bullring, Plaza de Toros de Ronda. It had a diameter of 66 metres. It was a pity that there were no “Bull Fights” as I would like to experience one. This bull ring was constructed in 1779 and finished in 1785, a two decades old structure.
Jardines De Cuenca
It was a layered garden with several viewing points, some looked toward Puente Nuevo, other at Puente Viejo, all looked into and across the gorge. There were not many visitors exploring the garden, we did see some locals playing chess on a table in the garden.
Puente Viejo & Bridge Romano
At the end of the Jardines de Cuencan was a smaller bridge Puente Viejo, over the gorge. The gorge was not very deep or wide at this section so Puente Viejo was not as tall and huge as Puente Nuevo, it was older though. It was built in the 16th century on the remnants of an earlier bridge. The bridge had a single arch of 10m in diameter and was 31m high. In the 17th century it was transformed and four parapet balconies were opened on the bridge to allow visitor to look out into the natural beauty of the gorge and land beyond.
On the bridge of Puente Viejo we could see another even smaller bridge, it was Puente Romano. Puente Romano was the smallest and oldest of the three famous bridges of Ronda. There was a walking route that led from Puente Viejo to Puente Romano, but Puente Romano did not look interesting so we did not went nearer to explore.
All the three bridges were within easy walking distance of each other and from our “stay”. From our stay to Puente Aiejo through Jardines de Cuenca was about 220m, Puente Aiejo to Puente Romano was also 200 m.
setenil de las bodegas
The next morning we drove from Ronda to Setenil de las Bodegas. It was a 30 minutes drive and the distance was only18 km. At Setenil, we parked our car at a parking (co-ordinates : 36.861540, -5.178098) and there was no charge.
It was about 11.30 am and Setenil was still not too crowded so we easily found parking space at the carpark by the side of the road. It was just a 280 m walk to the start of the street where the scenic sight was located. On the way down to the street we could see the whitewashed houses of Setenil.
Grazalema which we had visited the day before was a white village at the base of towering mountains, Ronda was on top of a deep and huge gorge and Setenil was embedded in a network of rock!
It was an amazing sights to see the white houses of Setenil sandwiched in between huge giantic rocks, These unique houses were on both two sides of a small river, Rio Trejo. We started our exploration of the white houses on one side of the river. There we saw a stretch of houses “stuffed” below a humongous overhanging rock! Many of these houses were converted into cafes and restaurants. That was nice as it was definitely time for our coffee break!
Houses under the rocks!Whenever we reached a scenic sight we never like to rush off. We loved to stick around to enjoy the sight leisurely. And if there was a “coffee place” at the site then it would be “coffee” with a bonus (sight) or “sight” with a bonus (coffee)! We had our coffee break at Bar La Tasca. We sat at its outdoor seating and had cafe latte and cheesecake as we slowly “absorbed” this amazing surrounding into our memories.
I went into the cafe to have a look at its interior and it was so different from my expectation. The front walls of the shops were just facades covering a board and short strip of cavity along the length of the overhanging boulder. The ceiling and the back wall of the cafe were the bare faces of the boulder!
After some 1.5 hour we left the cafe and took a walk down the row of shops and looped back on to the opposite side of the river where we saw more whitewashed houses under the more rocks.
On our way back to our car, we could not resisit looking back. Not only were there white houses below the overhanging rocks there were more house above the rock. We supposed the houses below the rock were some forms of cave dwelling.
After we reached our car we drove up to a Mirador (co-ordinates: 36.862309, -5.182140) that was on a higher ground to take a panoramic view of the town. From this Mirador the village looked beautiful but not in anyway special. Its uniqueness was only obvious when we walked along the stretches of “embedded” houses under the rocks!
Stay in Ronda
Our stay at Ronda was “Casa Duende del Tajo” which we had reserved on booking.com. It was an studio apartment with a view of the Puente Nuevo. It costed €160 for two nights. The price of the stay was higher than others around the vicinity as we were paying for the “view” and a private space. We arrived at the co-ordinates of the place as stated on booking.com and a lady took a set of keys and brought us down the road and turned right into a smaller lane to our studio apartment.
On the booking website the host offered a studio apartment and a larger apartment. Both costed the same amount but the larger apartment did not allowed cancellation. Paying more for the smaller studio apartment though was not worth the value but we liked the flexibility to cancel in an unexpected situation. We thought both the studio apartment and the larger apartment was in the same location so they would provide the same view. On arrival we found that this was not the case!
Apparently the studio apartment was not at the co-ordinates displayed on booking.com. The studio apartment had three levels, it was a narrow and tall building. On the ground level was a kitchen, a dining room and a small bedroom. There was a circular metal stairs going up.
The circular stair went up a level and its landing was immediately a doorless entrance to a room. There was a toilet in the room. The window of the room faced the neighbour’s wall with no view of the bridge!
The circular staircase continued upward to a black metal door. Outside the door was a rooftop balcony and there we could see the Puente Nuevo.
An apartment that was spreaded out in three levels definitely created some inconvenience. The lower two levels had no view of the bridge and the top level had a view but no comfort.
The kitchen had a small induction stove top, a microwave and a fridge. I found the cooking space a bit tight but still managed to cooked two breakfasts and two dinners during our stay.
On hindsight we should have booked the larger apartment. Not only was it larger and more comfortable, its large balcony with the fantastic view of Puente Nuevo was just outside its rooms. Which meant the view of the bridge could be seen from the bedrooms. The balcony barricade was made of metal railing which also allowed a better view of the bridge too.
Our studio apartment though had a view of the bridge, it could only be viewed from the rooftop which was inconvenient. The balcony barricade was also made of high concrete wall which block the view whenever we sat down!