The Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Ronda occupies a very special place in modern Spanish culture and history as the home of the Rondeño style of bullfighting and also of the Real Maestranza De Caballería De Ronda. The bullring was built entirely of stone in the 18th century, during the golden years of Pedro Romero’s reign as champion bullfighter. Continue reading
Ronda is one of the oldest towns in Europe, people have lived in the district for more than 30,000 years, and Ronda has been occupied for 9,000 years.
If you’re planning to visit Ronda here are the top things to do to help you enjoy your holiday. Ronda is a small city, and almost everything is within 500m of the Puento Nuevo bridge. Tourist office maps are printed in Spanish, English, German, French, Dutch, and Italian.
1. The Bullring (Plaza de Toros), considered to be the most historically important bullring in Spain, and home to the Ronda style with a matador on foot instead of horseback. The building can only seat 5000 people but has the largest central sand surface, known as the rueda, in the world. The structure is entirely built from locally quarried stone, then plastered and whitewashed. Read more.
2. The New Bridge (Puente Nuevo), the largest of Ronda’s several bridges that cross the impressive Tajo gorge that separates the city in two. The bridge is 98 meters tall with a tall central arch, and a room under the road that has been a hotel, a bar, a prison, and is now a small museum. Read more.
3. The Arab Baths are considered the most complete in Spain even though they are ruins, and offer a tantalizing glimpse into medievel Islamic times. Visitors are able to see the pump tower on which a donkey turned a crank that fed cold water to the baths. The water was heated and distributed in three rooms, a hot room for sweating out impurities, a warm room for massages and soaking, and a cold room to cool down. Read more.
4. The Mondragon Palace is a 13th century palace that archeologists believe was the home of Ronda’s Islamic King Abomelik when Ronda was the capital city of a large kingdom in Al-Andalus. The palace is home to the city museum with displays from the paleolithic, neolithic, Roman, Moorish, and Christian eras. Read more.
5. The medieval walls, with numerous gates and Islamic arches, high defensive towers and long stretches of impregnable stone wall that surround the old city and would take at least an hour to walk around. The most impressive sections are located at Almocabar in the Barrio San Francisco, Calle Goleta, and near the ruined flour mills in the Tajo gorge. Read more.
6. The Water Mine, a dark and scary escent to the Islamic era fortress carved into the gorge below the Casa del Rey Moro. Known as the Water Mine because for hundreds of years it operated as the only source of water into the city, with slaves chained to the steps to pass water bags upwards. Read more.
7. Visit the Santa Maria la Mayor church to see Ronda’s largest church, and also home to many of the Easter floats used in processions during Holy Week. The church was built on the foundations of an Islamic mosque, part of which is still visible in a small alcove as you enter. Read more.
8. Walk to the bottom of the gorge, though not for the faint hearted because this is a steep descent, but completely worth it to get that perfect photo of the bridge. Follow Calle Tenorio to the end and after the plaza take the walking track to the old Arab gate. If you wish, you can go through the gate and walk down and then under the Puente Nuevo.
9. Enjoy local tapas at one of the many outdoor bars in Ronda, with popular places being Plaza Socorro, Calle Nuevo, the Plaza in front of the Almocabar Gate, or Plaza Duquesa de Parcent.
10. Stroll through the old town at sunset as the tourists leave and Rondeños reclaim their city. This is the time when the real Ronda comes alive, with children playing in the plazas, families preparing their evening meal, and the sites and smells change completely.
Bullfighting has a proud history and tradition in Andalucia, and no more so than in Sevillawhere the Plaza de Toros is still used to this day. Owned by the Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla, the plaza competes with Ronda for the title of oldest bullring in Spain.
Before construction was completed, bullfights in Sevilla would take place in the Plaza de San Francisco in a rectangular shaped arena specially erected and then dismantled for each corrida.
Designed by Francisco Sanchez de Aragon and Pedro y Vicente de San Martin, the current plaza is built was completed in the mid 1880s from stone and brick, and then renovated again in the 20th century by the renowned architect Anibal Gonzalez who also designed Plaza de España in the city.
Unusually, Sevilla’s Plaza de Toros isn’t a perfect circle as is more common, with the rueda actually being more oval in shape. MAny visitors don’t notice this at ground level, but the shape is clearly seen from above, for example by climbing the Giralda tower in the cathedral.
Within the enclosure is housed the Real Maestranza, a chivalric order created originally as a military cavalry, the museum dedicated to bulfighting, and a chapel used by the toreros to pray before entering and leaving the ring.
During the April feria in Sevilla is when the most popular fights of the calendar are seen, with tickets sometimes selling for many hundreds of Euros.
Rondeño Sebastián Jesús Garcia has won the first monthly prize in a series of draws being organised by the Real Maestranza de Ronda (RMR) as they celebrate 225 years since the completion and opening of Ronda’s Plaza de Toros in 1785 with his photo entitled ‘Corrida Colgante’.
Sebastián takes home 200€ for his photo of a sculpture on display inside the museum, and said he wanted to capture the bullring from a different perspective, and behind the bull as it wearily watches the torero and his men was exactly what he was looking for.
The sculpture is entitled “A las cinco de la tarde”, At five in the afternoon, and was created by San Sebastian sculptor Andrés Nagel and depicts a bull fighting for its life against four men, one of whom is mounted in the Sevillana style of bullfighting.
As Spain’s premier Plaza de Toros, the RMR are actively promoting the history of the building as well as cultural activities in Ronda, and each month until December will see a photo chosen and the photographer win 200€ until the grand final at the end of the year when a 400€ prize will be awarded. All photos will also be used by the RMR in a poster to promote the Plaza de Toros.
This year Ronda Today stayed in the streets of Ronda to photograph the Sunday morning show at the Plaza de Toros on the final day of the Pedro Romero Feria 2010, Las Enganches. See last years article for a video of the carriages being judged inside the bullring, Las Enganches 2009.
Here is a selection of our favourite photos of horses, carriages, beautiful ladies, and gentlemen in traditional riding suits.
Today marked the 54th Corrida Goyesca on the last day of the Pedro Romero Feria 2010, with thousands of supporters in the streets of Ronda to see the Rivera brothers and their bullfighting comrades in arms.
The three matadors showing off their skills were Francisco Rivera ‘Paquirri’, Enrique Ponce, and Sebastian Castella, who looked resplendent in their Goya themed outfits. Ladies in the crowd as they approached the Plaza de Toros from the Hotel Reina Victoria eagerly shouted ‘guapa, guapa’ as their carriages passed.
As per tradition, they were joined on their way to the Plaza de Toros by the Damas Goyescas and their president for 2010 Lola Riaza, who also looked absolutely gorgeous and had visitors and residents alike rushing to take snapshots of their finery.
Unlike previous years, tickets to the Corrida Goyesca did not sell out, in fact shaded seats were still available directly from the official ticket office immediately before the toreros arrived to begin the show. Handpicked journalists who covered the event described a smaller crowd than normal and wondered if this was a result of the recent banning of bullfighting in Catalunya.
Significantly fewer politicians from Andalucia and the national stage attended after the town hall in Ronda cut back on spending for a box seat and their usual dinner afterwards. As well, the Duchess of Alba who is a long time supporter of the Corrida Goyesca failed to make an appearance fueling speculation she may be ill.
Here are a selection of our photos taken before the toreros entered the bullring.
Today the Real Maestranza de Ronda, owners of the iconic bullring launched a competition to find the best photographs inside or outside the bullring which they plan to use as part of the 225 year anniversary of its construction.
A special Flickr group has been created for photographers to submit their best photos of the Plaza de Toros, which can be scenic, action photos of taurino events, even photoshopped for creativity. As long as the photo can be said to be representative of the iconology or cultural importance of the building they will be accepted into the competition.
This is a contest for all levels and abilities, their only request is that the best quality you have be submitted for the contest. Residents and visitors to the city are all eligible to enter submissions, and there is no limit to the number of photos that can be added to the Flickr group, though photos showing identifiable faces will need a model release form before the photos can be used by the RMR in their publicity.
Prizes will be awarded every month until the 15th December 2010, with the top photographer each month receiving 200€, and a final prize of 400€ for the grand finale to be announced after the competition has closed. You can read the complete terms and conditions of the contest here.
So, dig out your best photos and get submitting on the official competition page on Flickr this is a unique opportunity to have your Plaza de Toros photos accepted into a Ronda exhibition that will be open to the public to see. Good luck.
2010 is a special year for the annual Corrida Goyesca and the Real Maestranza de Ronda as both celebrate the 225th anniversary of the construction of Ronda’s Plaza de Toros, a nationally protected monument with a fascinating history.
Yesterday the president of the RMR, Rafael Atienza Marquis de Salvatierra officially presented the posters for the 54th Corrida Goyesca and the 225th anniversary of the Plaza de Toros. He was joined by Pedro Romero de Solís, a historian who explained the significance of Ronda’s bullring, and Francisco Rivera Ordóñez and Sebastián Castella, the two headline toreros for the Corrida Goyesca.
This year’s poster for the event has been designed by Din Matamoro, an informalist artist hailing from Vigo whose particular style is often described as minimalist. Speaking about the poster, Matamoro described his inspiration as the lighting inside the Plaza de Toros, which is “magnificent, like looking at a great Velázquez painting.”
To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Plaza de Toros, the RMR has created a series of events, including the RMR Week of Music, an exhibition on the history of the bullring which will open in September, and a photography competition that will use the Flickr online photo sharing website to help select winning entries.
Originally created by Cayetano Ordóñez, the event was cemented in Ronda tradition by his son, Antonio Ordóñez, ‘el maestro’, and is now considered one of the premier tourist attractions in Ronda, as well as one of only a handful of truly important taurino exhibitions in the world.
The 54th Corrida Goyesca, traditionally held during the week of the Pedro Romero Festival in the first week of September, this year features the same format as afficionados have come to love, three days of bullfighting on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of September, followed by the Horse and Carriage competition hosted by the RMR on the 6th.
As per previous years, the bullfighting will see novice toreros fighting on the first day against 4 year old bulls, then on the second the masters of the Rondeño style of bullfighting will enter the ring against fighting bulls, whilst on the third day the event showcases bullfighting by horseback and lance, the Sevilla style.
Pricing in Euros for the three bullfights are listed below;
|Seating||Novillada (3rd)||Goyesca (4th)||Rejones (5th)||Season Ticket|
|Sombra Alta Fila 1ª||33||145||92||270|
|Sombra Alta Filas 2ª y 3ª||33||135||82||250|
|Sombra Alta Filas 4ª y 6ª||33||112||69||214|
|Sol y Sombra Baja||28||108||69||205|
|Sol y Sombra Alta Fila 1ª||28||108||69||205|
|Sol y Sombra Alta Filas 2ª y 3ª||28||92||64||184|
|Sol y Sombra Alta Filas 4ª y 6ª||28||87||59||174|
|Sol Alta Fila 1ª||22||87||59||168|
|Sol Alta Filas 2ª y 3ª||22||82||54||158|
|Sol Alta Filas 4ª y 6ª||22||77||48||147|
Spain, and in particular the Costa del Sol, is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, and from Marbella, Puerto Banus, Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Mijas Costa, Fuengirola, San Pedro, Málaga or Estepona Ronda is only a short drive, between 45 minutes and 1hr 15minutes away, and is rated one of THE must-see destinations in Spain.
Aside from the small and compact size of the city of Ronda, everywhere can be reached on foot in less than 30 minutes walking, Ronda has also been home to people spanning 30,000-40,000 years, most of whom have left their mark in the form of nearby cave paintings, bronze age burial chambers, a ruined Roman city, and the Moorish quarter.
Ronda makes a perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol, in fact Rondeños have a word that describes their lifestyle, tranquila, very peaceful. It certainly describes Ronda well. Here’s a list of monuments you can see if you have 3-4 hours to wander around Ronda.
The Bullring (Plaza de Toros)
Often referred to as Spain’s largest and oldest bullring, it’s real significance is it’s beauty as an architectural wonder, and as the bullring where Pedro Romero, the father of modern bullfighting perfected his art. The museum of bullfighting is located under the seating in the rear of the building.
Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is owned by the Real Maestranza de Caballero de Ronda, and is an exceptional building that is open to the public. It contains 136 tuscan columns that hold the stands, and the entire plaza is built from rock quarried locally.
Yes, if you really want to, you can pretend to be a bull and run around the rueda, nobody will laugh, we’ve all done it.
The Puente Nuevo
Universally recognizable, the Puente Nuevo is one of Spain’s most photographed monuments and stands 98 metres above the tajo gorge. It’s a truly impressive site, all the more so because the rocks used to build the bridge were quarried from below on the river bed, and then hoisted into position using an innovative system of pulleys.
The bridge featured in Ernest Hemingway’s award winning novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, though we’ll leave it to your imagination to decide if his story was true.
Originally built when Ronda was an independent kingdom, the Mondragon Palace isn’t much to look at from outside, but inside contains the Municipal Museum of Ronda and some beautiful original courtyards and terraces.
It was from here that the Catholic Kings accepted the surrender of the last Muslim governor of Ronda in 1485, but since then the palace has reverted to more peaceful uses, in fact being a popular wedding venue for Rondeños and visitors alike.
Moorish King’s House and Gardens
Back in the early 20th century before war descended on Spain the Duquesa de Parcent owned several houses in the Moorish Quarter, the largest of them being her own residence which became known as the Casa del Rey Moro, the Moorish King’s House, owing to the impressive dungeon and fortress carved into the living rock beneath the palace.
Legend has it that during the Moorish era Christian slaves would be chained to the steps and made to pass jugs of water from the river to the city water tanks above. During the Duquesa’s ownership of the palace the terraced gardens were redesigned by Forestier in the style of French aristocratic gardens of the era.
Back in Moorish times, public baths were a very popular social setting, and also a mandatory stop for visitors to Ronda who were required to cleanse themselves physically and spiritually in the adjacent Mosque before being allowed to enter the city proper.
The Arab Baths in Ronda have undergone extensive renovations in recent times, including restoration of the gardens and making the baths accessible to mobility challenged people.
Getting to Ronda
Coming to Ronda is easy, there are buses from Málaga several times per day, as well as buses from Torremolinos that pass through Marbella on their way to Ronda. Train services are also quite frequent from Málaga. Of course most people drive to Ronda, either using the San Pedro to Ronda road, or taking the road from Málaga to Coín and then following the signs to Campillos but turning off well before on the road to Ronda.
Arriving in Ronda can be confusing, the city has a ring road that is far out of town, but following the signs for the ‘Centro Cuidad’ on both roads will bring you to a large roundabout with a train line running over it. At this roundabout you’ll enter Ronda on the main dual carriageway through the city known as Avenida de Málaga, and the very end of which you’ll find the huge underground carpark “Parking Martinez Astein”.
From the carpark, exit at Avde de Málaga, and you’ll find yourself standing at the top end of a long pedestrianised street, this is Carrera Espinel, loving known locally as La Bola. Walk to the very end of this street (around 800m) and you’ll be standing directly opposite Ronda’s famous bullring, the Plaza de Toros.
Every year, usually on the Sunday morning following the big Corrida, the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda and the Real Club de Enganches de Andalucía hold a competition to pick the best horse and carriage.
The prizes aren’t significant, no more than a few hundred Euros, but the honour of being awarded the Champion of Champions Trophy at this event far outweighs any other prize on offer at the other provincial Ferías.
Several classes of carriage are judged, starting with single horse carriages, all the way to six horse teams arranged three across. Carriages fall into two and four wheel classes, covered and uncovered, and are usually in immaculate condition. Carriage owners take great pride in the appearance of their carriages, the horses, harnesses, and of course themselves.
Gentlemen are dressed in period costume suitable for the carriage they drive, whilst the ladies compete to be the prettiest Flamenco lady in the Plaza de Toros. The Dames Goyesca also get their chance to perform, with all of them taking up seats in carriages owned locally.
Photos from Las Enganches 2009