Wednesday, May 21, 2014

El Puente Nuevo

Been there.

Ronda, Spain – a city with elements tracing back to Neolithic times, was settled by Celts and later founded by Scipio Africanus, conqueror of Hannibal and Carthage and thus victor of the Second Punic War, one of the great generals and leaders of history.  It lies in the heart of the hills of Andalucía, the real Spain to my mind.

This magnificent bridge, the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), towering almost 400 feet above the Rio Guadalevín, is an engineering marvel painstakingly built in the last half of the 18th century by José Martín de Aldehuela.  It is said that some 50 workers perished during its construction.

The city has been a redoubt for centuries of wars, and was no less so for the Spanish Civil War of the latter 1930s.  Both the Republicans and Nationalists at times occupied the city, and both used the chamber under the central arch as a jail and interrogation chamber, tossing the condemned to the rocks of the El Tajo gorge.

Aldehuela also constructed the nearby Plaza de Toros, the birthplace through the Romero family of the modern art of bullfighting.  Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles became entranced by the city and its now controversial sport.  The Plaza holds few exhibitions these days due to its relatively small size, but we attended a corrida in Sevilla, where my son immediately caught on to the art of the event and, like me, was thoroughly taken by it.  My wife, however, certainly did not.  Such is the dichotomy of bullfighting: one either loves it or hates it, nothing in between.

The effort it takes to travel to Ronda is worth the time and bother, one of the understated but must-see places of Spain.

(H/T to Daily Timewaster)


  1. Never saw a bullfight and never been to Spain. Pretty picture. Or it was until you mentioned the condemned thrown into the gorge. Rodeo is an art that also hurts the animals, though they don't often die and no one cuts off their ears and tails as trophies.

    1. By sheerest happenstance, the son mentioned above just took up the same subject of bullfighting in a separate forum today. I'll let him reply:

      "Until you've seen [a bullfight] it's hard to justify. It really is a beautiful thing. The bull has a chance to die with dignity instead of having its throat slit in a slaughterhouse. The village then eats the bull. When I was in Spain I saw a bull get a standing ovation [at the end], and historically some have even been spared out of respect."


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