There is no better time to experience Ronda than during the historic festival of Ronda Romantica. If you’re in Ronda from 16th-19th of May this year, you’re in for a treat! The city will turn back the clock to the 19th century; the era of mischievous bandits, street traders and romantic travellers. The Romantic Travellers are said to have made Ronda what it is today. Famous names such as Washington Irving and Richard Ford came to the city in search of mystery and adventure, looking for inspiration for their next novel or artwork.
Every year in May, the people of Ronda excitedly prepare for the second oldest rural fair in Andalusia, founded in 1509. Along with Ronda, another 52 municipalities in the area also participate that have celebrated the event for centuries in the surrounding villages. Last year alone, some 20,000 people descended on the city to experience the spectacle of Ronda Romantica. Local rondeños decorate the town and dress up in costume, in a colourful tribute to the artists, writers, soldiers and bandits of the Napoleonic War era. Read on to find out more about this unique festival full of colour, music and history!
The city of Ronda has a fascinating social and cultural history which has shaped the identity and personality of the region. Back in the 19th Century, Spain was a very different place to how it is now; large social differences with a substantial gap between the rich and the poor. These circumstances gave rise to the appearance of an extraordinary character: the bandolero or bandit. The Andalusian bandits, either anonymous or famed, fought on horseback for their people, their families or simply just to survive. Andalusia provided a sanctuary for the bandits, who hid in the Ronda mountains to escape their crimes. They became well-loved by the public for their commitment to helping the poor and fighting against the corruption of the wealthy. For this reason, they inspired popular characters in many novels, in which they were heroes for some and villains for others. However, the thing that no one could deny was the romantic aura they possessed, a certain mystery which has attracted people from all over the world to visit the place where they once dwelled, and Ronda Romantica makes the perfect excuse to go!
Traditional Street Vendors
Street vendors come with their horses and donkeys laden with merchandise, roaming the city selling their goods to the local people, just as they did centuries ago. From the numerous stalls depicting traditional trades of the time, you will have the opportunity to taste organic food in Ronda such as rabo de toro (oxtail), traditional jamón and the best Ronda wine. In previous years, the artisanal market has sold a huge selection of quality goods, from jewellery to cheeses, to cakes and leather goods.
Action Packed Itinerary
During Ronda Romantica, traditional music, dance, gastronomy and traditions of the Serranía will be revived. Every day there will be an extensive programme of cultural activities, including historical re-enactments, colourful horse parades, cattle exhibitions, gastronomy competitions, children’s games, flamenco dancing and, of course, lots of fiestas! What’s more, the Andalusian bandits have been praised for their flamenco style, being known for dancing flamenco in its purest form. Whether you’re looking to watch magnificent displays of horsemanship, see re-enactments of classic historical moments or simply just to watch the passing parade of people dressed in beautiful period costumes, there will definitely be something for you!
The streets will be filled with horses & carriages, bustling with people dressed how they used to in the Napoleonic War era, whether it be as gypsies, soldiers, bandits or ladies in traditional Goyesca costume. These extravagant costumes add to the recreation of the atmosphere that will make us feel like the romantic travellers who discovered Ronda for the very first time. As for decoration, the locals drape embroidered cloths over their balconies and shop owners adorn their shop windows with garlands and banners.
If you want to spend a few days being transported back to a time of passion and fun, don’t miss out on this cultural festival to discover the ‘city of dreams’ at its finest! Put on a costume and get ready to experience Ronda relive its colourful past. Before you arrive, make sure to read our article on the practical things to know before you travel to Ronda. And download our Ronda map to orientate yourself in the city before the madness starts!
“There is something in the austere presence of this Spanish countryside that pierces the heart with a feeling close to the sublime.” -Washington Irving, Romantic Traveller