Rambling Through Ronda…

On the 5th day of our trip, we hit up Ronda, a small city of roughly 40,000 people located in the province of Málaga that has been around since Ancient Rome…

One of the reasons Ronda is important is that it’s considered to be the legitimate birthplace of tauromaquia (bullfighting)…In 1572, Felipe II founded the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda (The Royal Armoury of the Calvary of Ronda), where horses were trained to be more agile and quick (in order to defend the border) through excersises in which they had to avoid bulls…Eventually, in the 18th century, there emerged the toreros (bullfighters) (who faced the bulls–without horses, of course), and the Romero family (a local family whose members were some of the most important matadores of the age) rose to prominence…

Given all these contributions to the “sport” of bullfighting, the Plaza de Toros was inaugurated in 1785…It’s the arena with the largest ruedo (floor) in the world, making it more dangerous to fight here than anywhere else–for this reason, only the best matadores can torear here…

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Then we visited the Palacio de Mondragón, a 14th- century palace that served as a residence for Islamic royalty–but there’s not much left here that recalls that part of its history, save some foundations and subterranean tunnels…When Ronda was conquered by Fernando and Isabel in 1485, it turned into their place of residence for a season…It would eventually become the home of Capitán Melchor de Mondragón (hence, the name), and today it’s the site of the Museo Arqueológico

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Another highlight were the Baños árabes (Arab Baths), which are the remains of an Islamic bathouse…With cleanliness being an important aspect of the Islamic faith, this place was clearly  a vital social center for the Muslim population here…

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And here’s a site that wasn’t in our itinerary: La Mina del Rey Moro (The Mine of the Moorish King [I don’t know which one]), a series of escavated tunnels (the opening is next to the Casa del Rey Moro) that goes down about 300 ft. down to the river…During the Reconquista, captive Christians were forced to climb down, fetch water, and climb back up day-in and day-out–and to add insult to injury, they had to live down here…No wonder the vast majority of them died here…

Now, being the considerate blogger that I am, I actually decided to climb down the blasted thing, just so I could get pictures for my readers–And let me assure you, it was probably the most vile thing I’ve ever done in my life…It was damp (even more so considering that it was raining heavily that day [which made no dang sense–Andalucía’s supposed to be sunny {stupid climate change}]), dank, and dark, with centuries of build-up of God-knows-what on the floor…I could have easily slipped and broken my neck–but hey, I’m not one to dwell on such things…

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Oh, and I almost forgot: Before we went to Ronda, we headed to Antequera, another city in Málaga that’s home to prehistoric (3-4,000 B.C) crypts…

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So, has anyone else been to (or even heard of) Ronda and/or Antequera???…

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