|SPAIN's Ronda: "Nothing more startling than this wild and mountainous city."|
Famous 20th century Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke summed it up when he wrote: "I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams, and I have finally found it in Ronda. There is nothing that is more startling than this wild and mountainous city."
He wasn't alone. Others to shout its praises have included Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemmingway and Hollywood legend Orson Welles. Both loved the town for its uniqueness – and for its bullfighting tradition, the local bullring being Spain's oldest and probably most famous. Hemmingway wrote about the town, while Welles, a talented painter, captured it on his canvases and was so smitten that he asked to be buried on Ronda's outskirts.
Tourists marvel at how the city perches atop both sides of a 68-metre wide, 120-metre deep canyon, along the bottom of which flows the Rio Guadalevín.
And its very name Ronda, simply means rocky.
|THE Puente Nuevo (New Bridge):|
prison and torture chamber in centre span.
And a famous scene in Hemingway's classic For Whom the Bell Tolls is based on a particularly violent episode of the Spanish Civil War when 500 Fascist sympathisers were executed – simply by being thrown alive from high on Ronda's cliff-faces into that 120m deep gorge.
And interestingly some 70 per cent of photographs taken in Ronda are of its Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) that spans the canyon, although it is now anything but new having been finished in 1793 after 40-odd years of effort.
|ENFRENTEARTE Hotel's unusual|
welcome for visitors: half a Fiat 600.
And while it was being built, José Martin de Aldehuela who was actually the second architect to work on the bridge after the first pulled out after 26 troubled years, turned his talents on the side to designing Rondo's next most-photographed building, the Plaza de Toros bullring that was completed in 1784.
|UNUSUALLY sculptured pool chairs to fit one's back-side.|
Ronda is also home to the EnfrenteArte Hotel (which means In Front of Art), a somewhat weird and wonderful place that's a magnet for those looking to not only stay in one of the more unusual hotels in the world, but to photograph it almost as much as its host city's famed bridge.
|CIRCA 1784 Plaza de Toros bullring,|
Ronda's 2nd most-photographed icon.
The whole of the EnfrenteArte Hotel is decorated with such original and historical "artworks." Car tyres have been converted into occasional tables ... a surfboard serves for dining, and around the swimming pool are outrageously sculptured chairs specially shaped to fit one's back-side.
|HOTEL courtyard and pool.|
A unique establishment? You betcha.
For details go to www.enfrentearte.com. The hotel offers a complimentary 'Doctor Fish' pedicure, has a sauna, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, and all drinks and breakfast are included in the room price.
(Images: Aerial and Bridge, Spain Tourist Board; Plaza de Toros, Wikipedia; hotel, EnfrenteArte Hotel)