The power of the ancients
Strategically situated on the top of a huge stone cliff, Ronda watches endlessly over the surrounding landscape. A 360º view ensures that any invaders will be seen long before they reach the town’s picturesque narrow streets.
And there’s good reason for this need to know because Ronda has had more than its fair share of invaders intent on its destruction and complete annihilation. Since prehistoric times, successive waves of invaders have washed over and around the high cliffs, eventually marauding down the narrow streets. As early as the 1st century AD Pliny the Elder recorded that the town (then known as Arunda) was settled by the Celts who mixed with the Ibers and who themselves conquered several of the nearby towns. He inferred that because of its many natural advantages, invaders had been violently making their mark throughout recorded history.
Pliny was a product of the roman empire who were then the dominant power. Under their domain, they built a castle at Ronda, specifically to take advantage of the magnificent views that the natural redoubt provided.
The empire, falling to dust in the 3rd century AD, was overrun by the Visigoths and the Vandals but, after a brief period, in 711 were replaced a strong Arabic force sweeping in from North Africa. Ronda then became a main trade settlement vital as a communication centre between the African Continent and the capital of Al Andaluz, Córdoba.
The wheel of invasion and violent repression being never ending, on the 22 May of 1485 after more than seven hundred years of Arab domination, the town passed into the hands of the Catholic Kings, Fernando of Aragon and Isabel of Castilla. It’s stated that a period of grandeur followed for the town, although the suspicion is that it was a time of grandeur for a few, the nobles and knights who had commanded the troops of Fernando and Isabel. The change marked a period of growth and it was then that many of the magnificent buildings seen today in the streets of the town were built.