NATIONAL HERITAGE SITE
Monumento Bien de Interés Cultural
The Plaza de Toros in Ronda, inaugurated in 1785, was declared a monument of cultural interest (BIC), or national heritage site, in 1993.
Inaugurated at the midpoint of the institution’s 450-year history, the monument forms the centre piece of the Real Maestranza’s cultural heritage portfolio made up of tangible and intangible cultural expressions. The arena and dressage ring are fully integrated with our cultural, academic and educational activities. In 1997, a comprehensive restoration plan was carried out to stop the degradation of the stone, consolidate the building and make new uses and services possible.
The arena was designed and built along two main axes: the first formed by the Royal Box and the original main entrance, extended longitudinally in the direction of the Puente Nuevo (new bridge); and the second, at right angle to the first, with two wide doors at either end. The axes were substantially modified in 1923 when the main doorway was moved.
Viewed from outside, from the street, the façade is in a vernacular, understated style which gives away little as to what is to be found inside. Maybe the contrast was intended to be deliberate in order to increase the impact on stepping onto the arena to be confronted with the elegance of the stylization of the double interior arcade. The main gates are flanked by two Tuscan columns that support the entablature In the center of the tympanum is the coat of arms of the reign of Charles III.
The neoclassical double arcade is made of sandstone. The very low arches are supported by Tuscan columns. The second level is lower than the first and has a wrought iron parapet. The four arches corresponding to the two main axes are larger than the rest, highlighting the one that frames the Royal Box. On the vertical of each column, on the cornice, there are some stone pinnacles fashioned as torches.
The public stands on the lower levels, originally made of wood, and the series of private boxes on the upper floor, are a reminder of the hierarchy of the seating arrangements for public spectacles in the town square. The first set of columns is supported on a wall of ashlar, in the manner of amphitheatres, presenting a series of openings that were used by the public to access the stands from the arena.
The stone and wood barrier running around the circumference of the arena was erected years after the inauguration, reducing the diameter of the ring to the current 60 metres. After some historical research, the wooden parts of the barrier have been decorated with garlands and bucraniums, frequent elements in the local architecture of the 18th century.