alt
History
The official opening of the bullring took place on 19 May

Bullfighting first gained popular recognition during the reign of Philip V and became steadily established over the eighteenth century as it moved into the professional arena, leading to the requirement for an enclosed space for paying spectators to cover the costs. The first independent bull rings also started to spring up at this time.

Out of all five Maestranzas (Ronda, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Saragossa), the three located in Andalusia built their own bullfighting rings that played a key role in the aesthetic norms applied to the construction of the arenas. The construction of the Ronda Bullring came to fruition thanks to the interest on the part of the Maestranza and also owing to the long-standing tradition of bullfighting in the city. Bullfights were normally held in several locations around Ronda: in the plaza del Pozo, with «the Virgin of Grace» as patron saint of the Maestranza; in the main Square of the San Francisco neighbourhood, located on the outskirts of the city for a significant amount of time; in the Plaza del Campillo, situated on the banks of the River Tagus behind the College of Santa Teresa-formerly the Palace of the Marquises of Moctezuma; and in the main square, along the balcony of St. Mary's Collegiate Church, which became a meeting place for eminent authorities at the end of the sixteenth century . A distinctive feature of the bullfights in Ronda was their transfer from Plaza Mayor to the custom-built Bullring, which effectively did away with the need for a bullring made from wood, as was the practice in other cities.

1754. On 14 January, the Royal Maestranza requested authorisation from the Marquis of the Ensenada for the construction of a bullring. On January 23, a joint application with the Town Council was made to Charles III. The site for the bullring was designated, «which was called Hollanquilla, located some 82 yards from the Tagus River».

1767. The application was not well-received by the Court, which instead insisted that the bullring be erected from wood for use during fairs to be later taken down once the festivals had finished.

1769. Agreement was reached with the Town Council for the use of the land.

1779. This is thought to be the date that the Royal Maestranza commenced construction, without waiting for the relevant permission, and the site may have been even used prior to this year. A record shows that in June 1779, Francisco de Almagro, master builder, put in an official request for permission to undertake the construction of the ring himself, suggesting that the works were moving at too slow a pace.

1780-81. Funds were raised from among 86 Maestranza members (Maestrantes) resident in Ronda and other parts of Spain and America, who contributed amounts ranging from 750 to 1,500 reales.

1782. Construction was well under way: The Work, an aptly-titled document issued by the Institution stated that 87,703 reales had been spent up to that point. The master stonemason Antonio Guerrero presented a bill for the construction of 72 pillars, 72 arches, 250 yards of cornice, 2 small pillars and «detailed work on nine of the aforementioned pillars». The majority of expenses were related to staff: builders, labourers and skilled workers, such as the stonemasons brought from Cabra and the stone cutters from Teba. The Bullring was used on 24 and 25 May for a bullfight featuring Pedro Romero and his brother José, as well as for a primitive type of shot-put contest organised by the Order with the participation of the troops. According to Maestranza accounts, 27 people were paid, including «ticket collectors», «ushers» and «bottle collectors».

1784. This was a key year in the history of the bullring with bullfights already taking place despite the fact that construction was still underway. José Moctezuma held the title of Lieutenant of the Grand Brother during the fights held that year, which featured Pedro Romero and Pepe Hillo. On 11 May, the date that the first bullfight of the fair and a gala event organised by the Royal Maestranza Corporation in honour of the birthday of Prince Gabriel took place, the event had just started at about half past three in the afternoon when a soldier attached to the Provincial army, called Isidoro Espinosa, is believed to have moved a pillar and a section held up by 16 arches in an incomplete section of the ring that had been occupied by the general public, leading to the partial collapse of the bullring.

«The general cries from the public were extinguished by the terrible bang emanating from the collapse of a large part of the ring. The sixteen main balconies were the first to collapse, causing spectators to flee in fright, some to seek help and others who feared for their lives. It descended into a scene of complete confusion, wailing and cries of pain. People were scared of staying there and flooded the gates to escape, while at the same time, other people were struggling to get in. The priests arrived bringing with them holy oil and the viaticum as the bells tolled, and thousands attempted to pull their injured or dead parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives from the rubble», according to an eye-witness report. The man suspected of having caused the collapse lost his life along with another ten people.

1785. The unfortunate incident led to a complete ban on the holding of bullfights and permission to complete the bullring was suspended, which was finally lifted in January 1785 following numerous calls. Reconstruction commenced under the direction of the same master builder, Francisco de Almagro, with Juan de Lamas as the master stonemason and a skilled builder called Antonio Ordóñez. On 26 April of that year, the Royal Maestranza wrote to the King to notify him that construction had been completed.

"The main gate was completed, built by the Ronda stonemason Juan de Lamas"

The official opening of the bullring took place on 19 May, some 300 years after the occupation of Ronda by King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Presided over by Bartolomé Félix of Salvatierra, as Lieutenant of the Grand Brother, on behalf of the Grand Brother (Gran Hermano), the event was attended by Prince Gabriel Antonio, the son of Charles III and Maria Amalia of Saxony, as well as by 126 noblemen and the wider general public. Pedro Romero and Pepe Hillo, heads of the Ronda and Seville schools acted as matadors, whose two styles divided fans at the time. Over the next day and a half, they faced a total of thirty bulls brought from herds belonging to José Cabrera in Utrera, the Count of Vistahermosa and the Tarifa Countryside. 22 horses were acquired for both festivals. Pepe Hillo took in 3,224 reales for 2 days while Pedro Romero earned 3,000 reales. Both matadores were given two bulls as a gift, a common practice at the time and the possible origin of today's symbolic prize of offal, ears and tails.

On 9 November 1785, Charles III prohibited bullfighting, except for those organised for charity purposes. This ruling did not affect the events held at the Maestranza Bullring, where bulls continued to run during events that generally took place twice a year.

1788. The main gate was completed, built by the Ronda stonemason Juan de Lamas. In May of the same year, approximately 600 people were working in and around the bullring.

1797. Permission was finally granted for public and charity bullfights at the Ronda Bullring, slightly later than at other Maestranzas.

1810. French troops used the Bullring as their barracks.

1813. Agreement was reached to carry out construction on the bullring which was «almost completely left in ruins by the French».

1820. Only one death in the history of the bullring occurred during a bullfight held in the first year of the Liberal Triennium. Francisco Herrera, known as «Curro Guillén», was gored by a bull from the Cabrera ranch in Utrera. It is said that he was buried next to the bull pens. His remains were later found during repair works.

"The appearance of figures such as Cayetano Ordóñez followed by Antonio Ordóñez led to a revival of the Ronda school"

The most common bullfights held during the 19th century were those held in aid of Brotherhoods, amateur bullfights with young bulls and training fights organised by the town council in the bullring loaned to them by the Maestranza. Despite the fact that Ronda did not hold high-calibre bullfights, it still saw the biggest names in bullfighting pass through its doors such as Pepete and Gordito, Curro Cúchares, Guerrita, Reverte, Mazantini, Caraancha, Espartero, Frascuelo, Antonio Fuentes and Bombita.

Two great figures in bullfighting, Lagartijo and Machaquito, became professional bullfighters at the start of the 20th century. Following a period of decline, the appearance of figures such as Cayetano Ordóñez, known as «Niño de la Palma», followed by Antonio Ordóñez in the 1950's, led to a revival of the Ronda school.

C/ Virgen de la Paz 15 • 29400 Ronda (Málaga) • Teléfono: 952 871 539 • Fax: 952 870 379 • © RMR 2015 | Aviso legal