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Cuenca and Ronda: Sister Cities

While located over 600 kilometres away from each other, the cities of Cuenca and Ronda have exhumed an agreement from 1975 that forged their relationship as sister cities. Both exceptional destinations in their own right, they have come together to offer alternatives for travellers looking for something different in Spain.

By:  Lakshmi I. Aguirre
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Tourism agreement
Birth: 1975
Location: Ronda and Cuenca
Stands out for: exclusive travel offers for people in both Ronda and Cuenca
Did you know? you could win a trip to Ronda or Cuenca by taking part in our competitions!

Despite their disparate locations, the picture-postcard image of the cites of Ronda and Cuenca can seem almost identical to outsiders, even though each has its own unique and well-defined personality. “It’s incredible. People who don’t know either city very well have to look twice to see the difference,” explains Marta Tirado, General Director of Tourism, Trade and Industry at Cuenca Town Hall.

The historic buildings of Cuenca defy gravity. The famous Cuenca hanging houses could easily be right at home overlooking the Ronda gorge and are one of most well-known sights of the city. The most famous post-card image is the 98-metre drop below the white facades of buildings overlooking the gorge in Ronda. Perhaps it was the similarity in these two cities that led their mayors, Francisco de la Rosa (Ronda) and Juan Villalobos (Cuenca), to sign a partnership that brought the two cities even closer in 1975.

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Thirty-five years later the partnership has been resusitated after years gathering dust in the archives. In 2010 the partnership between the two cities came into force and was presented to the public during FITUR in January 2011. “We’ve started out by working on predominantly tourist initiatives,” clarifies Tirado. “It’s just a starting point and you never know where it could take us”.

One of these agreements is intended to motivate residents in both Cuenca and Ronda to visit their sister city. “We’ve put together special offers and discounts on hotels, restaurants and in bars,” explains Tirado. In that way people from both towns will find it far easier to travel and explore, receiving welcome gifts along the way. “Older people in both cites still remember the original agreement,” comments Remedios Ruiz who runs the tourist department in Ronda. Both towns hope that commercial partnerships such as these exclusive offers will bring people from both towns closer together.

So what do Cuenca and Ronda have in common as travel destinations? “Cultural tourism. The predominant cultural offer in both Cuenca and Ronda consists of an extensive networks of museums. However there is also a wide variety of options when it comes to nature tourism,” highlights Ruiz. Adventure tourism is becoming more and more important as travellers are becoming more adventurous and demanding services to help them explore the surrounding area. In Ronda there are several adventure companies working to cover this demand including Pangea Central, Aventura Ronda and Al Andalus Activa. The landscape surrounding Ronda (the Sierra de las Nieves mountains) and Cuenca (the ravines shaped by the River Júcar and Huécar) offer endless options for hiking and climbing.

Cuenca and Ronda have other important aspects in common, such as the international reputation of their Easter Week celebrations. In 1996 Cuenca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ronda is currently working towards inclusion on the list. Plans for 2011 also include the development of joint initiatives to promote their cities as destinations for foreign students looking to learn Spanish. But that’s not all: Cuenca and Ronda are also coming together to promote wine tourism. “There are several wineries producing in Ronda and even though the wineries in Cuenca are located outside the municipality, we maintain close relations with them,” explains Tirado. Also on the list of things they have in common is José Martín de Aldehuela, the architect who designed both the vertiginous Puente Nuevo bridge in Ronda and the Capilla del Pilar chapel in Cuenca Cathedral, amongst several other monuments and buildings throughout throughout Spain.

Ronda and Cuenca represent two cities with an incalculable historic and cultural legacy. The new-found relationship has led to the creation of a virtual link between their websites. After three decades on the shelf, their kinship has been rekindled with renewed vigor.


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