Spain's Oldest Bullring

February 24, 2007


We all just loved Spain’s oldest bullring in Ronda! Plaza De Toros was astonishingly beautiful and a great introduction to the culture. It is an exquisite neoclassical design with double arches supported by many columns. Generations of  Ronda’s famous Romero family were crucial in establishing bullfighting as it is known today. Grandpa Jess has always enjoyed bullfighting on TV, so this was a “must see”.

We have yet to see a bull fight and indeed it might not be our cup of tea, but we so enjoyed this experience and the museum next to it. We pretty much had the place to ourselves on this bright Monday morning in March. It was so pretty and pristine that it was almost hard to believe that bull fights still take place here.

We are planning on seeing a bull fight as I think it is important to experience one in order to fully understand the culture of Spain. I don’t think we will be able to see one this year now though, because they start after Easter and we will be in Morocco and heading for other places. Next year, Easter arrives earlier so perhaps that will be a better time. The season is finished when we return in November.

We did amuse ourselves by doing our own little family mock bull fight in this ancient ring in front of the gate where the bull enters. DaVinci thought instead of just carrying his jacket, he could make good use of it as his Matador’s cape. He demonstrated the technique and then he and Mozart took turns as the bull and the bull fighter while the rest of us cheered them on with “ole’s”.

It was fascinating to be able to walk thru the door and shaft where the bull comes down to the ring and get a real “bulls eye” view. We studied the multiple pens and pulley systems that the bulls stay in before entering that shaft (from every possible angle) and admired the complex system.

The museum that is connected to the ring is also quite a treat. We learned about how ancient this art form is and how it has evolved. One could not help but be impressed with a close up look at just how large these bulls and horns are and the amount of detail and craftsmanship that goes into every aspect from outfits
to saddles. BJ (DaVinci’s sister) remarked on how visible pride in workmanship was in every facet and feature.

We were surprised to see one matadors costume filled with blood and I am not sure if that was human or the bull’s blood. Either way it was the one disconcerting moment, but the idealized, romantic and artistic aspects that we experienced (sans any violence or real bulls) was inspiring.

I have seen plenty of pictures of bullrings and Ronda before, but experiencing them first hand was very different than I would have imagined. It is compelling that pictures and even film can not fully capture reality. I am always delighted when an often photographed place surprises and impacts me.












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