The city of Ronda, Andalusia, Spain.
Around the city are remains of prehistoric settlements dating to the Neolithic Age, including the rock paintings of Cueva de la Pileta. Ronda was however first settled by the early Celts, who, in the 6th century BC, called it Arunda. Later Phoenician settlers established themselves nearby to found Acinipo, known locally as Ronda la Vieja, Arunda or Old Ronda. The current Ronda is however of Roman origins, having been founded as a fortified post in the Second Punic War, by Scipio Africanus. Ronda received the title of city at the time of Julius Caesar.
In the 5th century AD Ronda was conquered by the Suebi, led by Rechila, being reconquered in the following century by the Eastern Roman Empire, under whose rule Acinipo was abandoned. Later the Visigoth king Leovigild captured the city. Ronda was part of the Visigoth reign until 713, when it fell to the Arabs, who named it Izn-Rand Onda (“city of the castle”) and made it the capital of the Takurunna province.
It was the hometown of the polymath Abbas Ibn Firnas (810–887), an inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and Andalusian musician.
After the disintegration of the caliphate of Córdoba, Ronda became the capital of a small kingdom ruled by the Berber Banu Ifran, the taifa of Ronda. During this period Ronda received most of its Islamic architectural heritage. In 1065 Ronda was conquered by the taifa of Seville led by Abbad II al-Mu’tadid. Both the poet Salih ben Sharif al-Rundi (1204–1285) and the Sufi scholar Ibn Abbad al-Rundi (1333–1390) were born in Ronda.
The Islamic domination of Ronda ended in 1485, when it was conquered by the Marquis of Cádiz after a brief siege. Subsequently, most of the city’s old edifices were renewed or adapted to Christian roles, while numerous others were built in newly-created quarters such as Mercadillo and San Francisco.
View toward the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor.
Ronda, Andalusia, Spain. April or early May 1996.
Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent many summers in Ronda as part-time residents of Ronda’s old town quarter called La Ciudad. Both wrote about Ronda’s beauty and famous bull-fighting traditions.
Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls describes the execution of Nationalist sympathizers early in the Spanish Civil War. The Republicans murder the Nationalists by throwing them from cliffs in an Andalusian village, and Hemingway allegedly based the account on killings that took place in Ronda at the cliffs of El Tajo.
Photograph by Ross Coupland
The town of Ronda clings to cliffsides in the Spanish province of Málaga. Here, prehistoric ruins mingle with more recent dwellings, creating a unique space that has drawn artists and writers for decades. Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Rainer Maria Rilke, and others spent time here.