In the romantic city of Ronda stands the iconic Puente Nuevo. Hordes of people congregate daily at the bridge that connects the two sides of Ronda. Directly underneath the sturdy structure is a 100-metre drop to the menacing El Tajo gorge.
The bridge that stands today was started in 1759 and took 34 years to build. Construction on the previous bridge began in 1735, being the first attempt to build over the highest point of the gorge. Unfortunately, the single-arch bridge was built shabbily and with haste. Disaster struck in 1741, when the entire bridge collapsed, killing 50 people.
Architect José Martin de Aldehuela was at the helm of the successful second attempt. His remarkable design turned the bridge into the city’s icon, which has since become Spain’s most photographed bridge. To build the large structure, a system of pulleys hoisted large stones from the gorge floor where they had been quarried and shaped.
Above the bridge’s central arch there is a chamber of around 60 square metres. It is said that during the Spanish civil war, the room was used as a prison and torture chamber for captured opponents. Allegedly, prisoners were hung from the window or thrown to their deaths in the deep gorge below.
Today, the chamber contains an exhibition describing the history of Ronda’s architectural treasure.