This morning we walked out early along the eastern side of the old city walls, stopping to admire the views and glorious wildflowers.
Ronda was established in the 9th century, and is one of Spain's oldest towns. The most complete Moorish Baths in Spain are found at the base of the walls on the eastern side, situated so that travellers could bathe and refresh themselves before entering the city.
Star shaped skylights allowed light to enter the baths, which were heated by drawing cool air through a furnace, then under the floors, creating a hot room, which was filled with steam when water was thrown on the floor. Other rooms included a cool room which was still warm, and cold bath areas, and so on.
Looking down over the baths, and the Puente Arabe, beside the river. It is fascinating to have a glimpse of previous sophisicated cultures isn't it? The brilliance with which Moorish builders moved water and created inviting cool spaces cannot be equalled today.
Ronda sits on top of a rocky outcrop, riven by the 100m deep El Tajo Gorge, creating spectacular scenery and endless opportunities for inventive architecture. Gardens line the edges of the gorge, offering a beautiful series of spaces to sit and linger.
We visited the Casa del Rey Moro where a famous hanging garden is beautifully maintained. Peacocks stroll between topiaried hedges, water trickles from a fountain at the top through spouts and ponds to a lower level, and glimpses away to the gorge, or the mountains surrounding Ronda, continually take the eye.
From high above the river, there is a Secret Mine, or tunnel, descending to river level. Long ago slaves would carry water up to the Palace, but it seems it was primarily a military structure. A zigzagging series of ateps are cut from the rock, and covered by an ingenious system of overlapping vaults. Near the bottom are small rooms and halls, where light filters in through windows and arches, illuminating the steps, which are wet from dripping water. It creates quite an atmosphere!
We were glad to sit in the little outdoor cafe for a while after that!
This is another view of the Palace del Roy Moro, part of the wonderful historic town of Ronda.