After our tour of Valeriano Bernal’s famous guitar studio, we hopped back in the car and started toward the breathtaking city of Ronda, Spain, otherwise known as the “cliff-side city”.  Cliff side meaning we had to drive up the side of a literal mountain to get to this place, but I got through the hour-long drive by the grace of Jesus himself.  No, but actually…a man named Jesus who owned a fruit stand on the side of the road gave me some sketchy motion sickness medicine that got me through the last leg of the drive.   

Allow me to introduce you:

Ronda is a city that’s been conquered and reconquered dating as far back as 600 BC.  It’s been ruled by the Celts, the Phoenicians, the Suebi, and the Visigoth all before the year 715.  That’s when the Arabs took over, along with most of Spain, and the city gained the Islamic influence that is still seen today.

In 1485, the Marquis of Cádiz conquered Ronda, which signified the end of the Muslim rule that dominated the region.  The city began to adopt Christian influences, which eventually led to the forced conversion and mistreatment of Muslims in Spain.  Fast forward to 1492, and the Christians conquered the Moorish empire by invading the royal palace, the Alhambra, in Granada.

In Ernest Hemingway’s novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, he describes fictional scenes from the Spanish Civil War where Fascist sympathizers are thrown to their death over the edge of a jarring cliff.  It’s said that this scene is based on actual events in Ronda during that time.

I approached the wimpy iron fencing along the edge of the cliff, which gave me a clear view of the Puente Nuevo.  I looked around and noticed the tourists walking across the bridge.  I thought about the difference six or seven decades can make…It was almost unfathomable that it’s the same city people were supposedly thrown to their death as a result of Fascist induced fear.

Bullfighting in Ronda:

Plaza de Toros in Ronda

Ronda is home to the oldest stone bullfighting ring in Spain, which now features a museum and occasional bullfights.  The Romero family of Ronda produced three generations of legendary bullfighters.  This family is responsible for turning bullfighting into an art form.  For example, the family’s patriarch, Francisco Romero, started using the red cape and sword when fighting, which is what most people today think of when they imagine a bullfight.  Francisco’s grandson, Pedro Romero (1754-1839), perfected the art of bullfighting with more than 5,500 fights to his name without suffering any serious injuries.

My Aunt Cristina coordinated a very meticulously- planned vacation for Michelle Obama and her two daughter in southern Spain back in 2010, and one of the places she knew she would take them was the majestic city of Ronda.  Below is a picture of Mrs. Obama and a group of friends and secret service en route to the bull ring in Ronda.  My aunt is to the right in the black shirt,white pants, and white purse. Pretty awesome!

Michelle Obama with her daughters and entourage in Ronda, Spain.

She said there were crowds of people offering the First Lady entire legs of jamón (ham). While this is undoubtedly an extremely nice and extremely Spanish gesture, the secret service wouldn’t allow her to accept any gifts.

 Here are some more photos from my day trip to Ronda:

Would you ever want to visit Ronda? Which cities are on your bucket list?  I’d love to read your comments!