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Puente Nuevo suffers structural Damage

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Puente Nuevo suffers structural Damage

Feb 26, 2017
Often cited as one of Andalusia's most beautiful and stunning landmarks, the 18th century bridge that spans across the El Tajo gorge and links the two halves of Ronda has been declared unfit to carry vehicular traffic by Ronda's town hall. Having suffered structural damage in recent years, the bridge is in urgent need of “immediate and partial” closure due to subsidence, a report carried out by structural engineers concluded. 

The jaw-dropping gorge of El Tajo has been created over millennia by erosion caused by the Guadalevín River. The bridge connects the old Moorish citadel in the south of Ronda with the “newer” part of the hilltop town in the north. It took a veritable army of stonemasons and labourers forty years to complete Puenta Nuevo, an amazing feat of engineering for the era. The first donkey carts trundled across the new bridge in 1793. 

Taking a Stroll through Andalusian History

During the Civil War prisoners were allegedly forced to jump to their certain deaths from Puenta Nueva, having first been incarcerated in the small jail that overlooks the bridge's arches. The building now houses a small museum. 

But now it is the bridge itself which is threatened by imminent demise. Following a visit from engineers working for Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, Puenta Nueva was declared in too unhealthy a state for modern traffic. The structural engineers sent their survey report to the town hall, requesting urgent action. 

Although the state of the bridge has been declared “robust” by the engineers, the report raises questions of what should be done about “conservation and filtering” of rain water. Local politicians are now debating, if it would not be better to allow only pedestrian traffic across the bridge. 

However, many residents are fiercely opposed to this suggestion, as it would divide the town and leave some of Ronda's communities “stranded”. 

Ronda is a popular day trip for people staying in their Marbella holiday homes at the Costa del Sol. Nestling in the foothills of the Ronda Mountains, the famous white-washed houses of Ronda grace untold numbers of postcards and holiday brochures praising the beauty of Andalusia's interior.

Turning left from the bridge leads pedestrians into Calle de Santo Domingo, from there to the Casa del Rey Moro – its name is somewhat misleading, since the building never housed Moorish kings and was not constructed until 1709. It does, however, overlook a steep rock-hewn stairwell dating back to the Moors. The staircase leads to gorgeous gardens landscaped in a French style, a small and rather unexpected paradise for visiting horticulturists. 

Ronda's oldest bridge is the Puente de San Miguel, which leads to the town's famous 13th century Arab Baths (Baños Árabes). Strolling through Ronda is like taking a short trip through 2,000 years of Andalusian history, for the town also contains Roman structures. At the northern end of the Plaza de las Duquesa de Parcent, for example, stands the lovely Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor, which started life as a Roman temple. It was then turned into a mosque during Moorish occupation before being returned to its Christian status as Ronda's main place of worship, when the Moors were kicked out after the Reconquest of the town in June 1485 by the troops of Don Vasco Martin de Salvatierra.

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