Travels in Rhonda, Spain
by Nancy Hartman of What’s Cooking America
Destino – Rhonda, Spain:
Panoramic view looking down from Rhonda
The Long and Winding Road: We are off again! Before heading south, we will visit Ronda, Spain. Ronda is a beautiful city situated on a cliff about an hour and a half drive west of Málaga. Ronda is found high in the Andalusian Mountains of southern Spain. The road to Ronda is very windy and the driving is very slow. I was thankful for the rental car as the thought of taking a tour bus up this steep windy road was not appealing.
A common site we saw along the way were motorcycles that race up and down and around cars and trucks at harrowing speeds. The rider’s knees were almost touching the road, as they sped through the curves decked out in full leather and padding. Warning signs along the road remind the bikers to watch their speed, the hazards of front braking, and possible collisions with slow moving vehicles. I do not think it is a past time that I would want to take on! I was ducking and dodging vicariously as I watched them speed by.
In Monopoly You Can Always Count On Free Parking: The climb to Ronda was well worth the drive, but we soon had our primera lección (first lesson); we discovered that parking in most small cities is a challenge. Owning a car does not seem to be as common in Spain as it is in America; therefore parking is scarce and facilities are small. After circling the area a few times, we discovered that the parking was underground in a very tight and dark parking garage below the city. We took aim and began our descent down the narrow opening. This launched the nose of our car skyward rendering us blind – we prayed that we lined up the entrance as we edged forward, the car nose dropping, and headed down into the bowels of Ronda. We squeezed into a very small spot and surfaced on foot to find the spectacular views that lay ahead on the walkway that lined the Cliffside.
Do You Know What Acrophobic Means? Ronda sits on a plateau of a large rock outcropping. A deep gorge divides the old city from the new. Looking down from the Puente Nuevo Bridge you can see old buildings and a patchwork of farm land that spreads warmly across the valley below. Due to the cliffs and gorges, Ronda was one of the last Moorish cities to fall during the conquest of Spain by the Catholics.
In 1485, the Crusaders looked up the cliffs to Ronda and decided not to attack the city, but instead cut off the water supply. Once the garrison protecting the water was taken, the city fell in 7 days.
Plaza de toros de Ronda – Bull Ring: As many Andalusian cities, Ronda has a proud bull fighting history. Ronda is where legendary bullfighter Pedro Romero is from. Romero, who was famous for slaying 5,600 bulls during his career, founded the style of bullfighting where the matador stands on the ground to face the bull rather than the traditional fight from horseback.
Ronda’s bull ring is recognized as one of the oldest in Spain. The plaza took six years to build and was opened in 1785. It is recognized as one the most monumental existing bull rings due to its history, architecture, character and beauty.
Comida: We found a nice restaurant, cliff-sided of course, and enjoyed a Tapa Mixta plate and Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a light, cool, refreshing soup from Spain. The Spanish call Gazpacho “salad.” However, to an American it is a soup. The word gazpacho derives from Arabic and means literally “soaked bread.” Gazpacho is very easy to prepare and so delicious and, of course, in Spain you will find a drizzling of olive oil dotted on the surface.
After enjoying a relaxing lunch we decided to wander down the valley and find a good vantage point for a photo of the city from below. While we missed the access road that takes you directly below the city, we found another road with a farther vantage point and an interesting mansion that had been abandon and was crumbling under the most beautiful palmetto tree.
Villa Apolo – Paranormal Activity: The name over the top of the doorway arch was the Villa Apolo. We wandered the grounds, circling the house, and walking down to the ancient watch tower that was on the property. My husband Matt and daughter Tabitha climbed the watch tower stairs to look out over the estate and valley below. The grounds of the estate were obviously used as a place to party by local youth, with remnants of bon fires and broken glass littering the grounds. I could see an open expanse where a tennis court used to be, and the trash filling the once elegantly tiled pool.
That night, I searched the internet for the Villa Apolo and found an article claiming the mansion is a sizzling hot spot for paranormal activity, ghosts, and UFO’s. According to one of these articles, the owner’s 8-year old daughter was found murdered and left in a large pool of blood, on the first floor of the ancient watchtower a few hundred feet from the mansion. Shortly after her death, strange things started to happen – appearances of the girl, noises, mysterious crying.
According to these legends, ghosts have been seen here. The girl has been seen as a crying child, but also as an adult in old-fashioned clothes.
View of the remains of the Villa Apoli Mansion
Categories:Food Travels in Spain