Ronda – More than the Birthplace of Bullfighting

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.

Craig standing in the bullring of 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.

the bullring for bullfighting in ronda, Andalucia Spain

plaza de torros de Ronda

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 atop the Gorges of Spain

A city atop of the Gorge

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.

festival in the rain at Ronda, Spain

a little rain doesn't stop the festival

the bridges of Ronda, Spain

one of the famous bridges

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.

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  • The World of Deej

    Great stuff…I’d love to have a pic like that in a ring. You should have put on full bullfighter gear:)

  • Ana Silva O’Reilly

    I have been to Ronda a few times and love it. I don’t have a single photo of it, so this article was so nice. I am glad you endulged in a bit of food. That iberico is something else. To this day, I have never seen/been to a bullfight. They are also popular in Portugal, but they don’t kill the bull in public (or so I am told). I just don’t think it is for me, but I love all the fashion that goes with it 😉

    • craig zabransky

      Ana, the fashion, pageantry, and ceremony the goes with it is impressive… and when i watched the match in Mexico City, the fashion was in the stands too. (maybe that’s what you meant) stay adventurous, Craig

  • Leah Travels

    I used to think I’d like to see a bull fight, but I know I wouldn’t anymore. It just makes me sad. However, I do love the pic of you in the ring. Very cool, Craig. I can’t wait to visit Spain next month. Sounds like I need to get to Ronda.

    • craig zabransky

      You can spend months and Spain and still leave with more to see, but Ronda would make my short list – no doubt. Enjoy your travels there. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Francesca

    Wonderful photos! Seriously. That last one in the post, of the bridge, is spectacular! I hope to get to Spain one day but I know I could never watch a bull fight. Like Leah said, it just makes me sad.

    • craig zabransky

      Francesca, Thank you very much. I always love to hear when people enjoy my photography. As for the bullfighting, it is definitely not for everyone. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Lazy Travelers

    i don’t think bullfighting is for us but it’s great to see the other side to ronda. looks like a great place to visit!

  • lola

    i really love this European series. gets me excited for my upcoming Euro tour. i’ve never seen bullfighting but i think i’d like the opportunity just once. i’m up for adventure! :)

  • Charu Suri

    I was just chatting with my local manicurist (who’s from Valencia) about bull fighting and how I’ve never been to spain. You’re right about the area changing but being a vegetarian bull fighting is something I definitely don’t want to see …I would find it very disturbing. But that said, I’m glad you highlighted other aspects of Rhonda because it might mean that I will visit that place…despite the bull fighting associations!

    • craig zabransky

      Charu, Ronda does offer more than bullfighting. Much more and so does Spain. Also, i love the fact you have a local manicurist. Fantastic. Stay fashionable, Craig

    • Jetting Around

      Hi Charu. I’m a vegetarian too and completely understand your point of view. I somehow got to see 2 bullrings in Spain and I felt quite uncomfortable being inside, even though it was off season. If there’s anything nice I can say about those buildings is that they’re interesting architecturally…

  • travelingted

    Hemingway has definitely influenced many a traveler in his day from his stops in Spain, France, Key West, Africa, and even northern Michigan. You have joined the club.

    • craig zabransky

      Northern Michigan, really? I’ll need to look into that one. Stay adventurous, Craig

  • Jetting Around

    Craig – I visited Ronda a little over a year ago. It was a surprise stop on the itinerary, something we hadn’t planned for until hubby read about the place. And am I glad we did! The gorge, the white-washed buildings (after all, Ronda is one of “pueblos blancos”), the great food were just a few thing we enjoyed. I’m glad to know another person who got to go there. :)

    • craig zabransky

      A total surprise for me too, and what a wonderful surprise indeed. Glad you made it there too. stay adventurous, Craig

  • CaptainandClark

    Growing up, I was incredibly enthralled with the history and grandeur behind bullfighting. It seemed the stuff of legends. Now, having heard what really happens in the ring, I’m not sure if it’s something that I could endorse. It’s good to know that Ronda offers so much more than bullfighting and travelers can still get a lot out of the city.

  • charlesmccool

    Ronda is SOOOO cool. We stayed in an apartment there with 20 foot ceilings and stark walls. If was cold, even in May (but nice blankets).

    • craig zabransky

      It was a bit chilly when I was there in Spring too… I wore my wooly at times. Stay Cool, Craig

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