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The mountaintop position of Ronda makes it stand out from the other white villages dotted among southern Spain's olive groves. Straddling a 100m deep gorge and dating back to Moorish rule, the town is a riot of historical fact and legend plus a little extra theatricality for the visitors' benefit. While Ronda had a reputation for hosting outlaws and rebels, most travellers nowadays come for the hiking or the Andalusian pace of life.
Most hostels in Ronda have outdoor terraces or common rooms with free Wi-Fi. You'll find communal barbecues, shady gardens and one hostel even has a rooftop plunge pool. Make the most of the setting and chose a 300-year-old farmhouse nestled in a little known valley outside town. If you'd rather be closer to town, you have the choice of a Ronda hostel on a 17th-century olive farm or a former flour mill right in the centre. Both dorms and private rooms are available.
Ronda has two halves divided by the El Tajo Gorge of the Río Guadalevín. South of the river is La Ciudad (old town) which was an important cultural centre under Islamic rule. You can still visit the Moorish palace among the peaceful white lanes. North of the river is El Mercadillo (the Small Market). This newer town is famous for its dramatic clifftop setting. While the buildings of El Mercadillo are in keeping with the whitewashed Ciudad, the streets around the gorge are full of boutiques and cafés catering mostly to visitors.
Puente Nuevo is one of the main sights in Ronda. This bridge spans the gorge, linking both parts of town, and has a chamber above an arch that was used as a prison during the civil war. For views, take a stroll on Paseo de Ernest Hemingway (two of his novels were inspired by Ronda) which has balconies facing out to the hills. You can also walk to the bottom of the gorge to see the bridge from below. Another unusual sight is the Lara Museum. Full of historic curios, it includes torture instruments from the Spanish Inquisition.
Málaga Airport is the closest, with good train and bus links to Ronda (a 2-hour journey by train, just under 3 hours by bus). Ronda Train Station is in El Mercadillo and has regular train services to Madrid and Granada. The train is ideal for visiting the white villages of Andalusia as the line runs right down to Algeciras and is considered one of Spain's most beautiful routes.