Historical recreation full of color and tradition. Visit the Romantic Ronda, it will take you back to the heart of the 19th Century
A world of bandits, travelers and muleteers. Ronda and its Royal May Fair, the second most ancient fair in Andalucía, will take us back to the Romantic Times through a unique historical setting. The streets, adorned with oleander wreaths, are filled with barrels, agricultural tools and clay objects that perfectly recreate the more picturesque years of this city in Malaga. Men and women dress in typical garments and walk along with the best horses bedecked for the occasion.
If you are considering taking a trip, make some space for this Ronda fair, curious in its uniqueness and beauty. A city with a rich heritage, surrounded by vegetation and only 40 minutes from Sierra de Grazalema, an incomparable natural site to relax and enjoy the pure air. A combination you cannot miss if you are visiting the South of Spain. Get paper and pen, because here we offer you ten reasons why you cannot miss this trip. This year, this can’t-miss event in Ronda takes place from May 30 to June 1.
1. The ‘Romantic’ setting
The setting recreated by the Romantic Ronda is simply amazing. Locals truly express themselves by decorating their streets and shop windows. The garlands and oleanders in the streets mix with pennants and banners hanging from the lampposts, exhibiting the heraldry symbols of Ronda’s mountain region. A tour to the most genuine history of the city. Stores dress up in the fashion of the Romantic times, paying attention to every detail. So, there you can find etchings that recreate the most typical moments of the time, which are very successful with visitors. Bulls and horses next to men and women dressed as “majas and majos” is another typical image that many painters have reproduced in their canvas.
But the fair is not only about these artistic expressions displayed by art galleries. Emphasis is put on the setting, through the typical agricultural tools of the time. Wheelbarrows, rakes and tools for animals are just a few examples of what we can find. All of this is also accompanied by clay objects, flowerpots, heaters, bowls, vases, barrels, chests, trunks, vessels, nickel silver, antique furniture and tables .
As for restaurants, cooking will be made in stone ledges, and food can be prepared only in stoves or portable cookers. There will be no electric light, and light will be obtained from oil lamps, kerosene lamps or candles. Chairs and tables are made from rustic wood, boards or cattail.
This effort turns Ronda into the center of attention during one of its most traditional celebrations. For this reason, contests are also held, giving prizes to the best decoration, the best typical dish, or the best costume, and others.
2. Men and Women of the Time
One of the most prominent features of Romantic Ronda is the typical dress of the time worn by local people, disguised as the “majas and majos” from this remembered time . Both in men and women, attires are eye-catching and significant, a mixture of elements of different origins, and some of them can date way back to the past.
Women wear a traditional dress in lively colors that goes down to their ankles, with socks and buckled shoes. They wear a very tight doublet with lapels and narrow sleeves, adorned with embroidery in the shoulder area, oftentimes with many silver buttons. The main color of this garment used to be black, inherited from the Austrias monarchy, as it was worn by the court. In the colored area they used to put some kind of adornment, this is, friezes and velvet straps adorned with tassels. The hair, always pinned up inside a bonnet was another particular feature of these Ronda “majas”, and many times it was also adorned with tassels.
For their part, men wore a coat with elbow guards, also called Marseille coat because it looks like the garment used by French soldiers in Marseille. They wear a “calzón”, that is, trousers which are tight in the upper and lower part, but looser in the middle, ending up with buckled shoes that left the socks uncovered. They wear a belt around the waist, and their hair with long side whiskers.
With these main details, current Ronda locals make their costumes for the occasion, and many of them take the opportunity to dress up as bandits, the main assaulters of the 19th Century , who hid in the Ronda Mountains. An unbeatable show to commemorate this historical recreation based on clothes.
3. Gastronomy of the Past
If you are coming to Ronda, prepare your palate to discover the most delicious flavors, especially at this time of celebration, when tables are filled with typical recipes of the time. Without a doubt, Ronda has always been famous for its cold meats like the chorizo (spicy sausage), Spanish sausage, bondiola, pork loin, ham, foreleg and morcon (blood sausage). The oxtail, the stuffed head of loin, and the Ronda-style kid are some of the most typical recipes of the region.
During the Romantic Ronda fair, stores compete with each other to get first prize to the best typical dish, and so you can embark on a genuine gastronomic tour and taste the specialty of each place, all prepared in the traditional style, using stoves or portable cookers.
Desserts are another delicacy that stands out, and they are prepared with products from Valle del Genal like chestnuts or almonds. One more reason to come to Ronda in late May.
4. Horses and History
The importance of livestock in this region dates back to the Muslim Times, when Ronda was the top producer of sheep and goats within the Kingdom of Granada, and it was then known as “The Mountains of Wool”. In some way it remained so after the Castilian conquest, without neglecting cows and horses. It is precisely horses that continue to stand out in this region. Always popular, but particularly in the 19th Century, these animals have been side by side with Ronda’s local people.
During this festival, the attire worn by horses is also recreated, together with the rider’s outfit. So, the horse wears a packsaddle, a typical country item. The saddle is adorned with brakes and breast-straps. The head stall was usually made from leather, and overall the attire was very colorful.
The rider wears a calañes hat with a silk handkerchief below, pinning up the hair in a knot close to his left year, and leaving the rest of the hair loose. In the torso, a white tight shirt and a vest in sober colors. The sash, in this case also dark, was worn around the tight trousers. Finally, on their feet they wore ankle boots covered by gaiters.
If you like horses, this is a great moment to see the best specimens, while you enjoy seeing the clothes of that time. It is a must-see spot for those who love Romanticism.
5. Sierra de Grazalema
The majestic city of Ronda is only 40 minutes from Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. If you want to take a quick trip by late May and early June, you can disconnect from all problems at Grazalema and, on the day of the festival, come to the most romantic city in Malaga: Ronda. There is no better option to clean one’s lungs with pure air while enjoying the most deeply-rooted traditions at the same time.
If you come here you can enjoy the thick Mediterranean forest of holm oaks, cork oaks and gall oaks, as well as its most typical species: the Spanish fir. Mainly concentrated in Sierra del Pinar, as it is the rainiest place in the Peninsula, this species descends from the Central European firs, which formed large forests here during the Ice Ages. Today, these firs live only here, at the Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja Natural Parks (both in the province of Malaga), hence their uniqueness. Visit dream-like places to practice any kind of outdoor sports for all tastes. Mountaineers can ascend to peaks like El Torreón or El Reloj, or climb rocky grounds and walls in Peñón Grande, Aguja de las Palomas and Peñaloja, in Grazalema. A perfect plan to combine both interests: nature and culture.
If you have read these 5 features of the Romantic Ronda, we are certain that this plan will not leave you indifferent. Enjoy the South of Spain in its greenest landscapes, while taking part in the most well-known and picturesque celebrations.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to experience this Romantic Ronda firsthand and also fill your lungs with pure air, the best place to stay, without a doubt, is Fuerte Grazalema.
The hotel has 77 rooms equipped with private balcony, breathtaking views to the Guadalete Valley and the town of Grazalema, air conditioning, satellite TV, mini-bar, free Wifi, bathroom with amenities and hairdryer.
It has an outdoor swimming-pool and a jacuzzi with views to the Sierra de Grazalema. Besides, this is one of the few hotels in the area with a game room. It also houses an animal farm and an organic garden, with visits every day organized by the hotel. Other activities in the program for guests to enjoy include courses of Andalusian cuisine, tasting of regional dishes, flamenco classes, and workshops on how to prepare sangria and gazpacho.