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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Friday, February 10, 2023 @ 7:08 PM

By Pablo de Ronda

Do you remember the 1965 smash hit by the Beach Boys? "Help me, Rhonda" was about a girl named Rhonda.

This article is about a town named Ronda, the largest town in the Serrania de Ronda and its Comarca, in the province of Malaga, Andalucia.




New Ronda

With a diminishing population of 33,000 (down from 36,000 a decade ago) this town still gives me a thrill every time I go there. The atmosphere in the bars and cafes, as well as on the street, is buzzing. On Calle La Bola, the main pedestrian thoroughfare named after one of Ronda's famous sons Vicente Espinel (Calle La Bola is a nickname but everybody calls it that), life is there for all to see. From underdressed, fair-haired and sunburnt tourists to locals who have never set foot outside the town, meeting up for a coffee or a beer and a tapa, depending on the time of day.

There are clothing and shoe shops from the big chains, but also small, privately owned boutiques. There are shops specialising in local products (jamón, local meats, wine, honey, cork products), gents outfitters, jewellers, pharmacies, ironmongers, bakeries, confectioners, arab shops.....there's even an osteopath's clinic!

There are cafes, bars, restaurants, churrerias, even a Burger KIng. Nearby in the Plaza de España is a McDonalds. Who let that happen?

There are six big supermarkets outside of the centre and smaller convenience stores in town. Currently, we enjoy the competition and variety offered by ALDI, LIDL, Mercadona, Supeco (Carrefour), Super Carmela and Dia, although Al Campo are about to take over this national chain. That will leave the City of Dreams with two French, two German and two Spanish supermarkets. There is also Super Chisma, also Spanish.

There are a number of Chinese stores or bazaars, three large ones on the poligono industrial, and at least four smaller ones dotted around town.

The industrial estate is large and covers pretty much everything. In this writer's opinion, Ronda lacks a large DIY store, such as Bauhaus, BricoMart or Leroy Merlin. In the meantime there are a number of good builder's merchants. There is one garden centre in Ronda and another the other side of Arriate.

Most vehicle makes have a dealership here. Missing are Hyundai, Lada, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saab, Volvo and there are plenty of back-street mechanics. There is an ITV testing station (MOT) and a breaker's yard outside of town

Most high street banks are represented, although BancSabadell is conspicuous by its  absence. They closed their branch a couple of years ago and their cajero shortly afterwards. However, I have discovered that you can withdraw cash with a Sabadell card from cajeros belonging to Unicaja, free-of-charge.

There is a full range of schools, an outpost of the Universidad de Malaga and a Music Conservatoire. There are a number of language schools, as well as private tutors. There is a new library and a tourist office.

For entertainment there is six-screen cinema, a theatre, other performance spaces, two theatre groups, and two or three reading and artists' groups.

For activities, there are three cycling companies, guided walking and bird-watching, buggy hire, horse-riding. Further afield you can take to the skies in a hot-air ballon, attached to a hang-glider, a micro-light or you can be a paraglider. There is canyoning, pot-holing, rock-climbing, pedaloes and sailing.

Ronda boasts three stunning murals dotted around the town.


Ronda's bullfighting heritage

Ronda boasts the oldest Plaza de Toros in Spain, and the one with the largest arena. However, the seating capacity is small, meaning that regular bullfights are not viable. Only the Feria de Pedro Romero, with its famous Goyescas, in September remains on the calendar. This is a shame for aficionados a los toros, for Ronda was synonymous with los toros. The Ordóñez/Rivera dynasty spawned some of the greatest ever toreros: El Niño de la Palma, Antonio Ordóñez, Paquirri, Fran and Cayetano Rivera. And we must not forget the afore-mentioned Pedro Romero, who got down off his horse and "invented" modern bullfighting on foot.

It was the bulls that attracted Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, both of whom have streets named in their honour. Welles is buried just outside town on the finca of the Ordóñez family.


Old Ronda

Cross the magnificent Puente Nuevo over the Tajo and you enter the Casco Antiguo, the old Arab part of the town with its narrow streets, magnificent old houses, tiny squares, orange trees and much more. The "cathedral" and the Town Hall are here in the most magnificent of Ronda's squares.

Heading south you pass through the tastefully restored city wall at the Almocabar gate into the Barrio de San Francisco, surely the finest neighbourhood in the whole of Ronda. Here is a large square with six or seven restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.


Help Me Ronda

I've just launched a new information website using an adaptation of the name of the Beach Boys' song.

It's not a commercial website, rather it's a public service hub - it merely seeks to be a one-stop-shop for information about Ronda and the Serrania - so I'm hoping the EOS moderators won't ask me to remove the URL.

Check it out. It's only been live for three days, yet has 128 members already. One of these is a newly arrived English lady who found a cleaner through the listings on my site. She contacted me to thank me.

What a great start!

Like 3


roberto123 said:
Saturday, February 11, 2023 @ 6:35 PM

Do not forget the large Chinese shops that sell everything except food..

PablodeRonda said:
Saturday, February 11, 2023 @ 6:59 PM

Good point. Thank you. I've amended the article.

BTW, the one on Avenida de Malaga, has started to sell some food items.

Lagalesa said:
Monday, February 13, 2023 @ 1:44 PM

Muy inrteresante.

I, for one, am glad to see the decline in bullfighting - wish it would be banned. I'm pleased that the younger generation seems to be a less bloodthirsty lot!
I love Ronda and wish we lived a little closer so I could visit more often.

Lagalesa said:
Monday, February 13, 2023 @ 1:45 PM


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