Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ronda: Day five

Situated in the far northwest of Malaga province, sits Ronda on an outcrop of rock in a sort of basin surrounded by mountain ranges.   It is here we are headed for today.

Ronda is one of the oldest towns in Spain and claims prehistoric beginnings.  There is a cave with prehistoric art, the cave of the Pileta (which I don't believe is open to the public) and other prehistoric finds.

  One of the most striking aspects of the town and its surroundings is its muslim heritage which has influence many of the practices and traditions of the area.   The Catholic Kings in 1485 conquered the town and added it's two most significant monuments:  the bullring and the New Bridge.   

We found Ronda after about an hour's drive from Marbella,  somewhat isolated and surrounded by rolling headlands and a beautiful landscape.  After leaving our car we set out for the New Bridge and old town passing by some pristine buildings with the Moorish influenced architecture.

            And here is the amazing expanse that awaits the visitor in the center near the old town of Ronda.

A new boardwalk skirts the view

   And here is the outside of the Plaza De Toros of Ronda which we visited first after a quick tapas lunch.

 I was surprised that my friend, a vegetarian, had for some time followed the Corrida for it's possibilities of beauty and fluidity.... when the bull and bull fighter come together to create a drama of sorts.

 When I voiced my objections to the killing of the bull and the way of doing it she gently pointed out to me the difference between the life of a toro for the bullring and the average steer that we cultivate for meat.

 The first is treated like a king until the last 15 minutes of it's life....the steer on the other hand lives a life of misery, separated from it's mother,   fed indigestible food,  never allowed to graze, bloated with hormones and anti-biotics and finally transported miles to its slaughter.

 I am still considering the ramifications of this but it was so very interesting to then visit the museum and witness the history, lore , props and pageantry surrounding the bull fight.  It somehow reminded me of Opera, which by the way,  my friend studied for many years.  

                            Youngsters pass before the bullring practicing their craft.

     Seeing the stadium and pens still and silent did nothing to diminish my imagination of what the day of a fight must be like with the thrill, dread and excitement and the teasing of all the senses.

 I think I could watch an actual bull- fight were the beast saved at the end and not killed as takes place in Nimes and Arles, France, apparently.

     So many Almond trees in bloom and Spring has come to the valley.  We are many feet above.  Oh, to have my father's 3D camera!

This then is the famous Puente Neuve, the real symbol of the city.  Its interior was a prison and enemies were hurled from the bridge at one time.  The river is very far from the top in a steep gorge.

Crossing the new bridge to the old town, one was struck by how clean the city is and how well maintained.  This buggy is , of course, for tourists.

Well, this is one of the few monuments that we visited in a town with well over 30 listed sites.   This is called the Castle of Rey Moro or a moorish king's palace but it is a deceptive name as no king of any kind ever lived here. 

 The house was built in the 1700's and is more significant for it's hanging gardens and it's water mine.

There was no access to the interior of this ruin (which I understand will be made into a hotel soon)  but the gardens laid out byJean Claude Nicolas Forestier were characterized by lots of running water,  a fish pond and Islamic motifs.  

The most impressive aspect of this visit though is the strangely named Water mine.

   The water mine is a true moorish structure likely done by the moorish king Abomelic.  It consists of a series of interconnecting stairways and chambers starting at the top of the cliff face and winding down to the Guadalevin River.

 In the day, the mine not only provided water for the whole city but was strategic  in helping the city withstand an extended attack from the outside.   The key to a successful siege of the city was to cut off the water supply.

During the time of the reconquest, when the Catholic Monarchs were trying to take the Iberian peninsula back from the Moors, Ronda was frequently under siege.  The steep cliffs around the city ruled out taking the city by force, the only way was to cut off the water supply.

 This did happen in 1485 when the Marquis of Cadiz successfully attacked the fortress at the bottom of the water mine and gave the citizens the choice of surrender or die.  They chose surrender.

  The water mine was restored in 1911 but Slaves built the original mine and 400  slaves daily carried the goat-skin bags full of water 300 plus or minus feet up and down the stairs!    Jeanne and I decided to do about 20 steps in the slime and dark before we beat a retreat!  Got the picture.

Jeanne and Blossom time.  

 A very good day....we finished off the tour by admiring the peacocks in their cage and trying to get the male to show us his plumage in full array.  He never succumbed but we were truly pleased with Ronda anyway.  


  1. I like the photo of the little drummer boys and girls..
    The photo of the stadium is magnificent!!
    Well done!