Ronda and Zahara de la Sierra

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This weekend has been a puente, so we didn’t have school on Monday and we also don’t today.  Puente means bridge and in Spain it is either a 3 or 4 day weekend.  It’s called this because it’s the bridge/break until the next vacation.  Normally a 4 day weekend is the perfect opportunity to travel for a few days, but I was trying to save money for Christmas break because I’m going to be traveling to Italy, so, I spent the weekend in Jerez.  Right now during December there are these things called Zambombas, which are gatherings of people to sing Christmas songs.  They are a lot of fun and everyone is drinking, singing and having a good time.  It was a fun weekend to stay around here.  I did however, get to do some traveling.  Some friends and I went to Ronda and another town call Zahara de la Sierra.

Zahara de la Sierra is a small town in the Mountains of the Sierra about an hour away from Jerez.  It is a small, beautiful town situated atop a mountain overlooking  a valley and a man-made lake.  At the highest point there is a defensive tower and the remains of a Moorish castle.  The views atop the tower were incredible and provided a complete view of the valley below, the lake and the surrounding mountains.

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After Zahara we went Ronda.  Ronda is about 30 min from Zahara and overall about an hour and a half from Jerez.  Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain and is famous for its puente nuevo connecting the two halves of the city.  *Sometime last year when I came across a picture of Ronda. When,  I saw a picture I knew I had to go there to see it in person.*  Ronda was better than anything I expected and 100x more magnificent than I could have hoped.  The bridge is spectacular and breathtaking.  It is a massive structure flanked on both sides by cliffs with historic buildings; beneath the bridge is a nameless waterfall that tumbles 25 meters below.  This alone creates a fairy tale-like composition, but, to make it even more beautiful, the whole city is situated in a valley atop a plateau, surrounded by mountains.  It’s one of the most beautiful awe inspiring places I’ve ever seen.  We viewed the bridge from so many different angles, we could probably reconstruct it from memory.

Aside from the many hours we spent admiring the bridge and the landscape we also visited the Palcio del Rey Moro and the historic Secret Mine.  The secret mine was built in the 14th century when Ronda was continuously being besieged due to the attacking forces of the Moors and the Christians.  The mine is reached by  300 steps carved in a zigzag pattern out of the rock.  At the end, you emerge at the bottom of the gorge with a scene of undisturbed tranquility, with the sounds of above forgotten. Ronda is truly a magnificent place unlike any other.

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