Ronda is a picturesque and charming town. Anyone who has ever visited the place knows this to be true. Every visitor is captivated by the town’s sheer beauty – and particularly by its impressive and famous Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), an architectural marvel that stands over 100 metres high and affords breathtaking views. Linking Ronda’s old town to the new town, the bridge is a superb vantage point. And if you happen to find yourself in Ronda during any of the town’s festivities, you will have an experience of a lifetime.
Ronda Romantica – An Enduring Popular Tradition
The May Fair, a cultural, historical and tourist event also known as Ronda Romantica (Romantic Ronda), takes place in Ronda every year and is the perfect occasion to discover the town in all its fullness. Taking Ronda back to the time of bandits and romantic travellers, the festival is a historical re-enactment of the Royal May Fair, which begun in 1509. For five days, the people of Ronda and about fifty towns around of Serrania de Ronda dress in fancy regalia—with the women wearing beautiful dresses with ornate hair coverings, and the men wearing their fanciest garb and sporting some of the sweetest combo wig/mutton chops—recreate the era of the bandits, drovers and romantic travellers in the nineteenth century and relive moments from past editions of the Royal May Fair. With a lively and very family-driven atmosphere, activities include equestrian parades, livestock shows, colourful parades, and vendors selling local crafts, food and apparel. The effort of the participants is exceptional and really adds to the romantic atmosphere. All shop assistants, waiters and waitresses are dressed in the peasant clothing of the time and it so adds to the ambience.
The Ever-Present Bull
The site of Spain’s oldest bullfighting arena and the home of a legendary matador, Ronda dips back in time every September for Feria de Pedro Romero (Pedro Romero Fair) – arguably the most important festival in Ronda. Its corrida goyesca re-creates the atmosphere of an 18th-century bullfight from the era of Spain’s great painter, Francisco de Goya. Men and women decked out in fancy dress ride through the streets on horse carriages, and bullfighting aficionados come from all over the world to see classical exhibitions. Held at the municipal fairground, the fair is officially opened with a spectacular display of fireworks. Excited parents and children can be heard all night exclaiming at the characters dancing in the streets, proud parents eagerly point out their own kids on the floats, and Ronda gives the participants of the Folklore Gala a rousing welcome as they sing, play traditional instruments, and dance their way home.
Other Time-Honoured Traditions
A deep-rooted tradition in Ronda is the carnival celebration with its long-established meal of migas (traditional sauteed breadcrumbs with pork/fowl/leftovers) held at Plaza de los Descalzos. On the last day of the celebration, the Quema del Muñeco (the burning of a three-metre high doll) takes place to bid the carnival farewell.
Each year, at the beginning of May, thousands of devotees in traditional outfits travel from all over the country to take part in Romeria de la Virgen de la Cabeza, an annual religious pilgrimage held in Ronda to honour the town’s patron saint. Pilgrims escort the Virgen de la Cabeza on her way from the Santa Maria de la Encarnacion Church to her hermitage located on Ronda’s outskirts. Once there, they celebrate a traditional and typical Andalusian festival, with no shortage of singing, dancing, fine food, frills and flounces.
The Corpus Chiquito, as the people of Ronda call it, is yet another long-celebrated tradition. Every year, members of the community escort the body of Christ in a procession through the streets of Ronda visiting all the altars scattered throughout the town.