Today our Adventurers took to the road again on a trip through the SW Spain countryside. Known as Andalucia, this area is known for many things, one of which is the Pueblos Blancos or ‘white villages’. They get their name from the whitewashed buildings that make up the towns – initially colored to keep the buildings cool and now done so for aesthetics. Many were once fortresses that stood between the Christian and Moorish territories so they sit nestled in the hills with dramatic views of the landscape.
Our 2 hour drive started with trying to figure out the cruise control on the rental car. Lots of fiddling with the buttons didn’t yield results so Tiffany pulled out the manual to look it up. Then she pulled out Google Translate to read the Spanish instructions. Those didn’t actually help either, but more random pushing of buttons finally worked which was a big relief to the driver.
As we drove we passed by a number of the most famous Pueblos Blancos – they were often tucked away in the hills – striking white against the bright spring green and grey rocks. We also saw some interesting road signs but no Osborne Bulls.
We didn’t stop in any of these towns although they looked charming, we headed to a specific town called Ronda. In addition to being a white village, Ronda is famous for two other things; the Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”) and the Bullfighting ring.
Our first stop was the Plaza de Toros. It is the oldest bullring in Spain and Ronda is sometimes credited with being the birthplace of modern bullfighting.
Built in the 1780’s it seats about 5,000 which is not that large, but the ring itself it quite big. We were all a bit turned off by the notion of bullfighting for real – it seems cruel – so we debated about whether we should see the site. In the end, the history of the structure and the museums won out. Hopefully our entrance fee will encourage them to make money from tours rather than fights.
One of the interesting things in the museum was the display of posters advertising upcoming bullfights. These posters were the first form of commercial art and attracted famous artists such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. See if you can pick out Picasso’s from the three we snapped pics of.
We did a quick stop at the overlook next to the plaza – Ronda is on top of the mountain so there are gorgeous views everywhere.
Next we headed over to the Puente Nuevo or the ‘new bridge’. Of course that’s relative – it was completed in 1793 so it is only new in comparison to the other 2 bridges that cross the 390 feet deep gorge that divides the city.
The bridge was designed by the same architect that did the bullring and is a great example of 18th century engineering and of integrating architecture into the environment. It is often listed as one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe. We were certainly impressed.
We spent at least an hour exploring the different areas of the bridge – taking in the view, snapping pictures, visiting the small museum in the middle section and hiking down to the bottom. It was well worth the 4 hour round trip drive.
We found a lunch spot overlooking the gorge for a quick bit to eat. Gazpacho and classic Serrano ham and melon started things off right.
From there it was lots of wandering the old part of the city which traded hands between the Moors, Visigoths and Christians for hundreds of years.
Our day ended with a drive back through the same beautiful countryside. We didn’t make it quite to the end of our audiobook (The Tale of Despereaux) so we finished the last 20 minutes back at the apartment.
Oh, and Picasso’s is the middle of the three posters