Ronda - Routes through the urban flora of Ronda **
Urban flora - Route 1
Our botanical route starts in the centre of Ronda, in the Plaza de España, next to the famous New Bridge. From here we take the street, or ‘calle’, Rosario, which leads us to the calle Virgen de los Remedios. We turn right and follow this latter street downhill till we reach the calle de La Mina, where we turn right again. This takes us to the gardens of Cuenca, which are set at the very edge of the ‘Tajo’; the cut in the rocks which makes Ronda’s famous gorge. The most outstanding tree that can be seen here is the Spanish fir or ‘pinsapo’ (Abies pinsapo). In these gardens we can also find other interesting plants such as Cymbalaria muralis, Erodium cicutarium, Lupinus angustifolius, Trachelium caeruleum, etc.
After we leave these gardens we cross the old bridge and make our way up the slope of the Cuesta de Santo Domingo till we reach the Palace of Salvatierra, in whose gardens grows the tallest pinsapo (Abies pinsapo) in Ronda. If one proceeds up the calle Marques de Salvatierra, it is possible to see the crown of this majestic fir tree. Our route, however, continues up the Cuesta de Santo Domingo and the next place of interest that we find are the gardens of the Casa del Rey Moro [House of the Moorish King]. To visit these gardens one has to pay an entrance fee, but it is worth it as one can also visit the ‘la Mina’, a stairway cut into the rocks during the time of the Arabic occupation, which descends to the river at the bottom of the gorge. The gardens were constructed under the orders of the Duquesa de Parcent, who entrusted their layout to the French designer Forestier. They were declared an Artistic-Historic Monument in 1943. The Cuesta de Santo Domingo leads us up to the calle Armiñan, where we find the New Bridge a short distance away on our right. This is the end of our route.
Urban flora - Route 2
This route also starts in the Plaza de España, and takes us around the Parador, starting from the New Bridge, which it is also possible to visit. On the cliffs of the Tajo that surround the bridge we can see interesting species such as Moricandia moricandioides, unusual in such a habitat, Centaurea clementei, a plant unique to Andalucia, and Lonicera etrusca, which colonises the rocky walls. AS we continue our walk we can see the impressive ‘hanging houses’ that stand, as if suspended, above the Tajo. Soon we arrive at the ‘Paseo de Orson Welles’, where the gardens of Blas Infante start, and we can see several southern nettle trees (Celtis australis). Here we cannot miss visiting the observation balconies that are suspended over the void, especially the one next to the bandstand. In these gardens there are numerous species growing such as rosebay (Nerium oleander) Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo) and walnut (Juglans regia). We continue or walk along the Pasaje de Ernest Hemingway, known to the people of Ronda as the walk of ‘Los Tilos’ [The Limes] (Tilia cordata), given that these trees, which line the walk, were planted in a symbolic act, each one on the same day as the child was born whose name is on the plaque at their base.
We soon arrive at the main garden area of Ronda, the Alameda del Tajo, which was opened in 1806. The names of many of the species that can be seen here are indicated on an accompanying board. Noteworthy ones are the cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Norway spruce (Picea abies), laurel (Laurus nobilis), toa (Casuarina equisetifolia), sycamore (Platanus hispanica) sweet locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), cedar (Cedrus deodara) holly (Ilex aquifolium) and redbud (Cercis siliquastrum), amongst others. Amongst the outstanding trees are the enormous umbrella pines (Pinus pinea) which grow near to the ‘Casa del Guarda’ and the mastic tree (Pistacia terebintus) which grows beside the entrance to the Paseo de los Ingleses. The Alameda park continues along this walkway which runs along the border of the Tajo. Between the wall and the edge of the cliffs we can find growing species such as: Antirrhinum majus, Linaria latifolia, Allium rotundum, Lathyrus cicera, Echium vulgare, Arisarum vulgare, Muscari comosum, Consolida ambigua, Ferula communis, Oxalis pes-caprae, Scrophularia sambucifolia, Ornithopus compressus, Echium boissieri, etc.
Urban flora - Route 3
This route starts in the plaza ‘Ruedo Alameda’, situated in the district of San Francisco, where there are several ancient gall oaks (Quercus faginea) growing. From here we take the street Cuesta de las Imágenes, passing the gardens which surround the walls of the Castle, built on the site of the old Roman fortress. The Japanese cherry trees (Prunus serrulata) that we see here are outstanding. They were a gift to the city of Ronda from representatives of the Japanese government on a cultural visit. We climb the steps of the calle Escalona, on our left, to reach the plaza ‘Duquesa de Parcent’, where we can see interesting civic and religious buildings. What we have come to see here, however, are the trees that are growing in the central garden, especially the outstanding yews (Taxus baccata). Very close by, in the gardens of the Castle, there are some enormous cedars (Cedrus libani) growing. From the balconies next to the car park there are some beautiful panoramas of the Serrania. From here we take the calle Manuel Montero to Mondragon Palace whose gardens deserve to be visited.
We continue along the calle Sor Angela de la Cruz till we reach the gardens of María Auxiliadora, where we can see two fine examples of Spanish firs or pinsapos (Abies pinsapo), a tree that is unique to the Serrania of Ronda. From here we take the path that goes down towards ‘los Molinos’, the Mills, passing between almond trees and a great variety of other plants, such as anchusa azurea, phlomis pupurea, echium albicans, daucus carota, silene colorata, fumaria officinalis etc. We soon arrive at a junction. The path on the right leads to the Puerta del Cristo, [Gate of Christ] which is of Arabic origin and is a good place to take a photograph of the New Bridge and the Guadalevín river. We take the left hand path which takes us around the foot of the cliffs and through the Puerta del Viento [Wind Gate], we soon arrive at a cobbled street on our left which leads us back up towards the Plaza del Ruedo Alameda, where our route started.
Urban flora - Route 4
As in route 3, we start from the Plaza del Ruedo Alameda, this time following the calle Marbella. Before we reach the petrol station we take a footpath on our left that takes us down to the track that runs by the Culebras stream, along whose banks we can see an interesting selection of water loving vegetation, outstanding amongst which are the black poplars (populus nigra). We turn leftwards onto the track, passing olive trees (Olea europea) and the medieval walls of Ronda. By the wayside and the banks of the stream we can see the following plants growing: Centaurium erythraea, Iris Xiphium, Anagallis foemina, Cinoglossum creticum, Bellardia trisago, Papaver rhoes, Gladiolus italicus, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys tenthredinifera, Calendula arvensis, Thymus mastichina, etc.
Soon we arrive at the Arab Baths, the best preserved in Andalucia. From here we ascend via the Paseo de Chefchauen. Below the old city walls we see an interesting variety of plants such as: Sedum sediforme, Iberis pectinata, Asplenium ceterach, Umbilicus rupestri, campanula mollis, linaria tristi, etc. We pass through the Exijara gateway, of undoubtedly Arabic style, and walk alongside the walls known as ‘las murallas del Carmen’. From here we take the streets Goleta and Armiñan, to descend to the Plaza del Ruedo Alameda, which is where our route started from.
Other places of interest: The pinsapo in the plaza ‘Concepción García Redondo’, and pinsapos in the gardens of San Cristóbal, San Rafael, Barriada de la Uva, Park of the Dehesa del Mercadillo and the Paseo de la Planilla.