Spain. The country offers so much diversity to the traveler. And for many visitors a trip to Spain is not complete without spending time in Andalusia (Andalucía). After my travels I agree. And of all the wonderful places in Andalusia, definitely make sure you visit Ronda.
Bullfighting in Ronda
Ronda is widely acknowledged as the birthplace of bullfighting. A “ring” was originally established based on the need for the aristocracy to learn to fight on horseback. Through the years, this “training” eventually transformed into the sport of modern day bullfighting since the instruction involved bulls from the start.
But not until Pedro Romero in the late 1700s did the sport change to allow for the grace and movement of today’s matadors. The bullfighting legend is known to have fought 5,000 bulls in his day and pleased countless crowds with artistry and bravery.
The sport once again reached popularity with the Ordóñez family (father Cayetano and son Antonio) dynasty in the 1900s. And they achieved further international recognition because they impressed one very famous author – Ernest Hemingway.
I don’t consider Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon as glorious as perhaps other fans of his work, but his fascination with bullfighting did help pique my interest.
To be honest, I never knew what to make of the sport. And perhaps I still don’t even after watching a match on Sunday afternoon in Mexico City (I didn’t see a fight in Ronda, I visited during the off-season) Is it animal cruelty? Or is it tradition and a respectable sport? We all have are opinions and you can challenge yours at the Bullfighting Museum at the Plaza de Torros en Ronda. I know I did.
Ronda, it’s Not Just Bullfighting
I met some travelers at the bullring (they took my photo) who just drove into town and left after touring the bullring. A quick stop on a blitz through Andalusia. I held a different itinerary. Yes, I came to learn about bullfighting, but I discovered much more in Ronda.
I stumbled upon a festival, amazing views of the city high above the gorges and the delicious cuisine. Dinner might only start at 9pm, but taking some sliced iberico jamon, a chuck of manchego cheese, some fresh baked bread and a bottle of vino tinto to my rooftop definitely helped hold me over.
Looking back, in some ways, it could be said Ronda is out of place in this part of Spain. No flamenco, no visible Moorish past and no beach to soak up the sun. But maybe that is what made it perfect. I guess that is just all part of diversity of Spain in Andalusia.
Stay adventurous, Craig
this post is part of the European Summer 2012 series on the site.