Our second day along the Southern coast of Spain found us in the hillside town of Ronda.
Known for its spectacular views and fortress-like position,
it's perched 2400 feet above sea level and commands an amazing vista over the mountainous region inland from the coast. I love the contrast here of the fragile almond blossoms and the cactus.
Even though it was January, the almond trees were dressed in all their finery at the time we were there.
The city boasts one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, having been opened in 1785.
Pedro Romero, the town's most famous native son and the father of modern bullfighting, killed some 5,600 bulls here in his lifetime.
After being killed, the bull was hung up from this chain to be butchered.
We left the newer part of the city to cross over the New Bridge, finished in 1793, to the old town of La Cuidad which remained in Islamic or Moorish hands until the Christian Reconquest in 1485.
The bridge is an architectural marvel spanning the El Tojo ravine which is 360 feet deep and 210 feet wide.
Once inside the old Moorish town, we strolled its twisting narrow streets which still had a Medieval feel. Orange trees lined the streets and plazas. We found ourselves at the Palacio de Mondragon, which was built for Abomelic,the ruler of Ronda in 1314.
Three courtyards are situated inside,
through which you can wander and admire
its strong Islamic character, mosaics and coffered ceilings.
Through the horseshoe arch, so typical of the architecture of the town, we wandered out to a cliff-top garden, where from every angle,
the views were spectacular.
We were fascinated by many things, such as these doors cut out of the doorways,
charming white stucco houses,
and the ubiquitous Seville orange trees. The oranges from these trees taste a bit sour, and they are often sent back to England where they are made into orange marmalade.
We were entranced by the Iglesia de Santa Maria La Mayor, a grand cathedral which stands on the site of a former Islamic mosque. The tower and the galleries date from this time.
The mosque was destroyed when the Moors were overthrown, and it was rebuilt later as a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The main altar is heavy with gold leaf,
and the side chapels are just as lovely.
Our wanderings took us to the other side of the old town,
but Michelle Obama had preceded us last August on her holiday trip to Spain that caused such a ruckus.
We passed through the Philip V archway, built in 1742, and walked along the old city walls to get to the
ancient Arab baths dating from the 13th and 14th century with their steam rooms, massage rooms and hot and cold pools.
As the sun began to set, we gathered for final views along the restaurant terrace,
and reminisced about our favorite memories of a town that none of us will soon forget.