Ronda, Spain: Hemingway and Orson Welles – Their City of Dreams

The city of Ronda, in Andalucía, southern Spain,  is a dream, in itself.

I was lucky enough to ‘have to’ go to Ronda last week to meet up with friends there whom I hadn’t seen for ages.

High up from the coastline.

Unfortunately, the road up from the Costa del Sol in Málaga, Spain where I live is just a tad short of treacherous. As I was making my way up the ……..metres, I just had to keep remembering it would be absolutely the worth the drive to see some dear friends but that also the city of Ronda is always worth the traumatic drive.

And it really was.



Map of Route:


This is the screenshot of the treacherous road from the Costa del Sol, (The Sun Coast) up to Ronda.

There were times, going up and even more times coming down, when we thought it would be our last road, ever! Not for the light-hearted.

If you notice the tine blue petrol station sign just above the letter ‘R’ in Ronda, you will understand how I felt after I realised not long after I passed it that I was running low on petrol. There was no turning back as there are only two lanes on this little mountain road.



The views and scenery from the city of Ronda are really worth the drive, but I would still recommend taking the coach.

I have seen the magic that Hemingway and Orson Welles saw over 50 years ago in Ronda. In fact, I have seen it 6 times already since I moved to Spain and I saw it again last week.

I must have been to Ronda about 5 or 6 times by now since living in Spain because it’s the ‘go-to’ place in the area where I live. Friends and family visit from the UK and from other places and I admit  I will always try and entice them to Ronda. They are never disappointed and neither am I. This was the first time I had driven there myself. I have only ever taken the coach trip!

The (tiny) city of Ronda is established on either side of an amazing gorge ( El Tajo) and the view and perspective of the town from there is worthy of a visit for the thousands of tourists who flock there every year. 

Apart from that, the city has many other fascinating places of interest to the visitor.

Ronda was first settled 6th Century BC (2600 years ago!) and was named Arunda by the Celts who established it.

After that, over the centuries, Ronda has been taken by Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Berbers. An amazing historical Curriculum Vitae that would impress anyone!


View of surrounding countryside from the city Ronda Photo credit

But what was it about Ronda that lured both Hemingway and Orson Welles to the tiny city?

Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961)

Nobel Prize for Literature 1954

Ernest Hemingway arrived in Spain in 1936 as a journalist at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. During that time he learned to love Spain and the Spanish way of life.

Speaking of Ronda Hemingway famously said:   “That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone.”

Great works by Hemingway, concerning the Spanish Civil War and bullfighting are “Death in the Afternoon”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”  and posthumously “The Dangerous Summer”

Hemingway quote, referring to Ronda :

“There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez [another beautiful town in Spain]  to see your first
bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is
where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you
ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any
direction is romantic background….”

See the following link for an insight into Hemingway in Spain and particularly in Ronda!      Ernest Hemingway in Ronda

 Ronda is famous for many things but one main attraction is for having the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain,  built in 1784.

Was this the great attraction for these two giants of American literature? Was it really all down to bullfighting?



The bullring, Ronda: Photo Credit


OrsonWelles and his love of Ronda

Orson Welles died in 1985.

After his love affair with Spain and all things Spanish, his ashes are resing at the bottom of a well on a country estate in Ronda, which belonged to his great bullfighting friend Antonio Ordoñez.

For a greater insight into Orson Welles love of Spain and Ronda in particular, take a look at this interesting site:  Speaking of Spain



One of the many typical narrow streets, in Ronda,  built centuries ago to cater only for people – and donkeys if you were lucky! Photo credit

But it doesn’t stop there…Ronda has been attracting personalities and lots of tourists, especially in the summer months to take delight in its quaint streets and Spanish street culture.

Apart from the views and the famous Puente Nuevo (New Bridge, which isn’t new at all) over the gorge (El Tajo), and the bullring, Ronda has Roman ruins, Arab baths, museums, churches, plazas and streets littered with bars and restaurants of all types. Flamenco music is an integral part of the culture in Ronda.

There are concerts and spontaneous performances very often, especially in the summer.

One other famous American personality is known to have travelled to Ronda, perhaps wishing to uncover the reasons why Welles and Hemingway were so taken by the area and by Ronda itself –  In 2010 Michelle Obama and daughter visited Ronda: Michelle Obama visited Ronda  

I’d love to read any thoughts about the interest Welles and Hemingway had in bullfighting and Spain in general.


  1. Whilst on a holiday In Malaga I heard about Ronda and a few months ago I did a Google and I must say that I was absolutely fascinated. I promised that I would visit there some time soon. Thank you for the great article, particularly the input on Welles and Hemmingway.


    1. Hi Peter. Thanks for reading.
      Ronda is certainly worth a visit, but it’s freezing cold up there this time of the year. The road was closed due to snow, only last week.
      I’m back up there tomorrow actually, but I’m dreading the drive back down to the coast in the dark. Yikes, it looks a long way down from the mountainside!


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