A day trip to beautiful Ronda is a “must do” when in southern Spain!
While in southern Spain I have ventured to several nearby places. Previously I have mentioned my day trip to Gibraltar and in this post I am going to write about my journey to Ronda.
Ronda is only a short bus or train ride away and I went by bus on a small group tour. The town is high in the mountains and there are plenty of twists and turns to get there. Like so much of Spain, there is a great deal of history and different cultural communities associated with Ronda. It dates to prehistoric times and has seen settlement by the Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, and Spanish. Today’s architecture reflects the influence of Arabs and Spanish.
Earnest Hemingway and Orson Wells lived portions of their lives in Ronda and Wells is buried there. Although these individuals are well known for their literary and theatrical contributions, the town of 35,000 and the country have been heavily influenced by bull fighting and is reported to be the home of the sport. Outside Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is a statue honoring the most famous matador, Pedro Romero Martinez, who allegedly fought 5558 bulls without being seriously injured! Across Spain are 30 foot high monuments to bulls and the sport as seen in the photo.
Of the most famous of landmarks in Ronda, though, is the Puente Nuevo or the “New Bridge.” The name is misleading as the New Bridge construction began in 1751 and was completed in 1793. This massive structure is about 390 feet above the canyon floor and connects the two parts of Ronda. In the photo, can you see the people standing on top? The bridge not only connects the town but also was a part of the judicial system in Ronda where once found guilty of a capital offense, the guilty party was quickly tossed over the edge to his death.
Ronda is a beautiful town but does have a large number of tourists in it. I love Ronda, the sites and the food. There are places to eat everywhere and serve a variety of dishes from all over the world.
Last month I went to a bullfight in Mijas Pueblo. They are held each Sunday at the Plaza de Toros located in the Parque de Muralla. As someone has since observed… “It isn’t really a fight because the bull doesn’t stand a chance.” Actually, the observation is correct. As soon as the bull enters the ring, he is doomed to eventually be worn down and die. That sounds awful but I also don’t want to detract from the bravery and skill that the young matador demonstrate in the ring. If you are like me, I am sure you wouldn’t want to be face-to-face with and inches away from an angry bull, pawing his hoofs and anxious to gore you with his horns!
As pictured, the Plaza de Toros was built in 1900. It is different from other bull rings in that it is an oval outside with the circular bullring inside. Seating is at two ends, “Sol y Sombra” (Sun and Shade). As it was quite hot when I went, I chose sombra even through it was a bit more expensive. The seats are concrete and stone. It does have a livestock odor to it. The ring has places for the matador’s assistants as well as the band (like a small pep band) that I will describe later.
I am not going to include the gory parts of the fight in these notes. It is bloody and, in my opinion, cruel at times. Bullfighting is close to being a national sport. Futbol (a.k.a. soccer) certainly is the national sport, however! Recently I was in Ronda which is the home of bullfighting for almost 400 years. There you will find monuments outside the city bullring dedicated to the most famous toreros including Pedro Romero Martinez who allegedly fought 5558 bulls without being seriously injured! Across Spain are 30 foot high monuments to bulls and the sport.
I am enclosing a few photos taken during and after the bullfight. The pricey event was an hour and a half long. This included flamingo dancing as well as two fights. It also was interesting that a small high school band was at the bullfight and added music to the various activities such as the matadors entry, and bull entering the ring, building excitement throughout the bullfight, and finally the dead bull being dragged around the ring after being killed, the bull’s ears given to the matador, and the matador being carried off on the shoulders of others as a hero!
Until next time, “Ole!”