Date: Dec, 2014
Location: Ronda, Andalucia, Spain
Many tourist guides will tell you the Ronda bullring is the oldest and largest in Spain, however, the story is shrouded with technicalities.
The bullring only has 5000 seats, hardly the largest in the world, but the rueda, which is the round circle of sand, is the largest in the world at 66m, making it 6m larger than Spain’s biggest bullring, the Plaza Toros Las Ventas in Madrid.
The bullring in Sevilla is considered older by some, having commenced construction in 1761, and was completed in 1785, compared to Ronda’s commencement in 1779 and completion in 1784, though purists agree Ronda’s bullring should be entitled to the crown since it was first to stage a fight. However, in May of 1784 during the first inaugural corrida, part of the stand collapsed forcing its closure until repairs could be made and a second inaugural corrida held on May 19th 1785.
Ronda’s bullring, is definitely the oldest bullring constructed entirely of stone, most others being constructed with a combination of stone and brick. Designed by José Martín de Aldehuela, it is unique in having all of the seats under cover. The stands were constructed in two levels of seating of 5 raised rows per level and 136 Tuscan sandstone columns forming 68 arches, providing support for the top level of seating and the roof.
The Ring is home to the Rondeño style of bullfighting, one of Spain’s most famous schools of bullfighting, on foot rather than on horseback as performed in Jerez and Sevilla. The legendary Pedro Romero is said to have killed nearly 6,000 bulls here. It is also home to the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, Spain’s oldest and most noble order of horsemanship, an order that traces its heritage back to 1485, the year the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors in Ronda after 773 years of Islamic rule.
Today, the Plaza de Toros houses the Museo Taurino, which contains many of the most important outfits and bullfighting memorabilia from the last two centuries, as well as an extensive collection of weapons used by the Real Maestranza during Spain’s many wars.
During the Feria Goyesca held in the second week of September, an event created by Ronda’s bullfighting maestro Antonio Ordoñez, a bullfight in honour of Pedro Romero is held, often including members of the Ordoñez family, Ronda’s second bullfighting dynasty. The bullfighters and their assistants all wear costumes reminiscent of those worn by characters appearing in Goya’s paintings.