Marigold and friend. He's not been well for a while now.
Not much from me today, nothing new there, but G will keep you up to date.
We left our hotel and had a fab journey into Ronda. We had a sort of map, just a sheet of paper James Bond had given me. As we approached Ronda G said look at the map and tell me where to go for the car park which is marked. Firstly, some water had leaked on the map and the ink had run, G was growling by now as the traffic was awful and asking where to go. I panicked and said “first left” and guess what there was a car park. He was so impressed and so was I. Moral is if you're in a panic, just guess.
Went into the bullring and looked at all the lovely costumes and you realise what skinny little men they were. There were lots of Japanese taking selfies and an American woman who said “it's so old here.”I said “yes it is” and ran off laughing. Why? No idea.
No frontpics of me today - bad hair day!
Back to Ronda today, bright and early. We walk over the bridge between the two halves of the city in the morning sunshine, water glistening 100 metres below us, and a fellow traveller tells us the bridge was completed in only eight months. We nod sagely but only when he continues do we pay particular attention. This vastly expensive and difficult project may have been completed in record time, but it had to be knocked down again six years later as it was about to fall down. Yep, we’ve all known builders like that. The replacement is still standing and we didn’t notice any cracks today.
It’s difficult to imagine any city better placed to provide a secure home for its residents and the Romans certainly knew a thing or two when they sacked the town, as it was then, and made it virtually impregnable. It remained an important citadel until the squabble between Pompey and Julius Caesar spread as far as Spain and most of the buildings were destroyed. After that the Greeks came, then the Visigoths, who preferred to destroy not build, but Ronda really took off with the arrival of the Moors in 713 AD. By Ronda’s standards, 713 AD probably counts as ‘yesterday.’
Abd al-Aziz, son of the Moorish general Musa Ben-Nusayr was the man given charge of the town and it was under his rule that the Ronda wecknow today began to take shape. In 132 BC, the Roman commander Scipio had ordered the building of a castle in the town. This had long been destroyed, but al-Aziz ordered the construction of a new fort on its ruins and gave the town a new name, Izna-Rand-Onda, roughly translated as the town of the castle and over the course of centuries therather cumbersome name of Izna-Rand-Onda was reduced first to Madinat Ronda and finally to to Ronda.
The legacy of the Moorish occupation was a huge number of private houses and prestigious public buildings, but a mere ten years after the Moors were expelled the great earthquake of 1580 destroyed many of Ronda's buildings, prompting many at the time to insist it was retribution for the expelling those who had been mainly benevolent rulers for over seven hundred years.
Ronda survived many difficult eras and only really gained its present prosperity with increased tourism dating from the 1960s. Many attractions await the visitor today. There are the ancient houses, the massive feat of engineering that is the New Bridge spanning the gorge, the splendidly situated Parador, now a hotel, and of course, the bullring which attracted Ernest Hemingway and produced numerous legendary matadors.
Disclaimer: we’re animal lovers and bullfighting as a ‘sport’ is abhorrent to us in every way. I wouldn’t go to watch it under any circumstances, but as with fox hunting in England, I appreciate tradition and the beliefs of others. The concept may be flawed, but I can appreciate the setting, the obvious spectacle and the sheer courage of the men who face down bulls in the arena. My sympathies and support may be with the animal, but even so, these were men with cojones.
These more enlightened times, thankfully, have turned Ronda’s bullring into little more than a museum. We paid our entrance fee and had worked out how to work the turnstiles system where one presents a barcode on the ticket in a particular way in no more than five minutes!
The raked sand is almost golden, the sun beats down and there were people sitting in the seats all around the great bowl of the arena. Even without a bull it was impressive. In the museum sections I was particularly taken with the old posters advertising a particular event. Stunning. Marigold was surprised at the costumes; some of the matadors suits of lights would have fitted a child. Nimble, slender, agile men in the main, and must have appeared very small and insignificant when viewed from the upper seats when the whole area contained only that slender figure and two tons of enraged bull.