We are in Ronda, a neat, beautiful town only a 1 1/2 hour drive away from Fuengirola. The city only has a couple of tourist sites, but is supposed to have a beautiful culture, high in the mountains, with cliffs on almost all sides. People love this place because it makes you feel like you are back in the time of the Romantic Travelers. The Romantic Traveler period was the time before machines and factories were invented, so things were a lot more natural and less artificial. Some people long to be in a time like that, and Ronda is the place to go! Ronda has a rich history, gaining knowledge and culture from every empire that has occupied Spain. It was home to many great musicians, poets, philosophers, writers and thinkers from the ancient times. I myself have loved being in Ronda so far, and decided to look more into its rich history. This is what I found…
The roots of Ronda date back to the Celtic tribes in the area, who founded a city here named Arunda in the 6th century BCE. By the time that the Phoenicians arrived in the area, they transformed it into a city named Acinipo, which is the old part of Ronda. The newer/current Ronda is of Roman origin, founded as a fortified post during the Second Punic war by Scipio Africanus, and became known as a city at the time of Julius Caesar.
Later, at the fall of the Roman Empire, Acinipo was overrun by the Visigoth king Leovigild. It remained part of the Visigoth Empire until 713 CE when it fell to the Berbers (Moors), who named it Hisn Ar-Rundah (“Castle of Rundah”) and made it the capital of the Takurunna Province. But after the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Ronda became the capital of a Berber kingdom in Andalucia. It was during this time that Ronda received most of its Islamic architectural heritage.
Islamic control over Ronda ended in 1485, when it was reconquered by the Christians and adapted to Christian roles.
Shortly after the reconquest of Iberia, the Spanish Inquisition began. This had huge effects on Muslims in the area, and many did not want to lose their homes or belongings, so they said they were Christians, but secretly practiced Islamic prayers. These people were called Moriscos. The king of Spain, King Philip II, did not like these Moriscos. He watched for them and tried to get rid of them. He was not watching Ronda so hard. So the Moriscos could have a refuge to be hidden from the king’s eyes. This refuge was Ronda.
On May 25th, 1566, Philip II banned the use of the Arabic language in Ronda, levied heavy taxes on Morisco traders, and required that all doors remain open on Friday, so that no Muslim Friday Prayers could be conducted.
These restrictions led to many rebellions, one in Ronda led by Al-Fihrey, who, with his army, defeated the Spanish soldiers sent to suppress him.
The massacre at Ronda led to the expulsion of all Moriscos in Ronda, by decree of King Philip II.
In the early 19th century, the Napoleonic invasion and the Peninsular War caused much suffering in Ronda, reducing the population from 15,600 to 5,000 in a matter of 3 years.
Spain did not participate in WWII, but instead had a civil war of their own, the Spanish Civil War. A lot of people suffered at Ronda, and a common punishment was to be thrown off the cliff.
That is most of the history of Ronda.
Below: Ronda’s Puente Nuevo, which began construction in 1751, but took until 1793 to complete