The exhibition space is located underneath the public seating area of the bullring.
The story of tauromachy or bullfighting begins with its mythical origins in universal culture, we see how it takes root in the Iberian Peninsula and how it evolves from a rustic diversion to a Royal function performed by knights and skilled horsemen, eventually becominga highly regulated and lucrative public spectacle. The history of bullfighting is incomplete without Ronda, its bullfighting dynasties – the Romeros and the Ordóñez – and the bullring built by the Real Maestranza.
In 1954, Cayetano Ordóñez, father of the maestro Antonio Ordóñez, and himself a leading matador in his day fighting under the name Niño de la Palma, proposed that the bicentenary of the greatest matador of all, Pedro Romero, should be properly commemorated in Ronda.
Under the auspices of the Ronda townhall and the Real Maestranza, a celebratory bullfight was organized in whch the ring and all the participants were to be dressed as in the 18th century, the era of the Romero brothers (Pedro and José) both of whom had been subjects of portraits by Goya. Hence the fight was named “Corrida Goyesca”. The celebration took place on September 9 with six bulls to be fought by three matadors: Antonio Bienvenida, César Girón and Niño de la Palma’s older son, also called Cayetano. After a two-year hiatus, the “corrida goyesca” was organised once again in 1957 and 1958, with Antonio Ordóñez, Cayetano’s younger brother and one of the most successful matadors of the time. It is around this time that Ronda-born Antonio Ordóñez enters into a business arrangement with the Real Maestranza and as promoter transforms what was a local commemoration into one of the most important fixtures on the bullfighting calendar, a true social and cultural event attracting attendees and media attention from all over the world.
Since 1999 an artist has been commissioned by the Real Maestranza to illustrate the poster announcing the bullfighting festivities of the Pedro Romero Fair. The collection of original works includes authors such as Eduardo Arroyo, Félix de Cárdenas, Eduardo Úrculo, Guillermo Pérez Villalta or Miquel Barceló. All the posters are on display in the bullfighting permanent exhibition.
He was born in Ronda around 1700, and is credited with the invention of the muleta, the red cloth help open by a wooden pole, designed to distract the bull whilst concealing the sword during the latter stages of the fight immediately before the kill (not to be confised with the cape used aat the beginning of the fight). Legend has it that hi original profession was that of boat builder. In his famous letter on the origins and development of the bullfighting festivals in Spain, Nicolás Fernández de Moratín relates that in 1726 “Francisco Romero, from Ronda, began to stand out as a fighter on foot, he was one of the first to perfect this art using the muleta, waiting face to face for the bull [to charge] and standing firm, killing him body to body”He adds that the bullfighter “to protect himself from the horns, wore suede trousers and jacket, a large tight belt and sleeves covered in black velvet”.
Son of Francisco, he commences his career fighting alongside the matador Joaquín Rodríguez and later with his son, the famous Costillares. Juan Romero is one of the first matadors who attempts a more organized approach to the fiesta, hiring his own permanent team (cuadrilla) and obliging promoters to hire him and his men.
Juan found time to father seven children; of the six males, four would become bullfighters: Gaspar, Antonio, José and Pedro. His daughter, María Isabel, would marry a bullfighter, a leading matador of the time, José Cándido from Chiclana.
José third son, José was a long-time rival of his younger brother, Pedro, and shared rivalry in the ring with other leading matadors such as Pepe Hillo. According to the chronicles, these rivalries lost their edge over time. José had excellent attribures: he was a serious, intelligent bullfighter, who performed with decorum and achieved considerable fame and success. Considering his profession he died at the unusually advanced age of 73 years.
Youngest son of Juan, and brother to José, Pedro is considered the most outstanding figure in the history of bullfighting. He was born in Ronda on November 19, 1754 and took his first professional steps in the ring alongside his father. In 1771 he was part of a matador’s team in a charity fight in Ronda, organized by his grandfather, Francisco. Although only a second sword he killed his first bull in public; he was just 17 years old. In 1772 he made his debut in Seville. In Madrid he would appear in 1775, in a bullfight in which his father shared the bill with his rival Costillares; Young Pedro was a stand-in (sobresaliente), his name was not even on the bill, yet he killed two bulls, and shot to fame. The year 1776 was the year of his consecration; he put a grand total of 285 bulls to the sword, and the word in Madrid was that there was no bull in Spain that he could not defeat. The following year the famous rivalry began with his competitor, Pepe Hillo from Seville. This became one of the most passionate duels in bullfighting history, due to the virulent and sometimes violent clashes between their teams of loyal supporters who would follow them from fight to fight.
Pedro’s last fight was on October 20, 1799, where he shared the bill with his brother Antonio and his eternal rival Pepe Hillo. By his retirement, Pedro had faced some 5,600 bulls over 28 years of professional bullfighting. Yet he was never gored, injured or even scratched by any of them – a record that is unbroken to this day.
In 1830 the Seville School of Bullfighting was founded, and by direct order of the Crown, Pedro was called out of retirement to become its first director. He died in his home town of Ronda on February 10, 1839 at the respectable age of 84. Pedro Romero was the first bullfighter to achieve social recognition and respect inside and outside the ring, and who dignified the figure of the bullfighter in Spanish society. Francisco de Goya immortalized him in a portrait, like his brother José, and in his bullfighting engravings.
THE ORDÓÑEZ FAMILY
CAYETANO ORDÓÑEZ, NIÑO DE LA PLAMA
The founder Ronda’s second great bullfighting dynasty was born in the city in January 1904. His parents owned a shoe shop called La Palma, thence his nickname, “el níño de La Palma” (the La Palma kid). At the age of seventeen, he jumped down into the arena from the stands to face a young bull for a few moments. The following year he was hired to fight in the same ring and wore a suit paid for by a spectator. A year later he made his debut in Ronda, and was the first bullfighter to be carried out in triumph through the main gates of the Maestranza’s bullring. In 1924 he repeated the feat in Seville. It is in Seville that Cayetano graduates to the rank of matador, at the hands of the great Juan Belmonte. He fights for the last time in 1942, in Aranda de Duero. He was appointed director of the Lisbon Bullfighting School, and died in Madrid on October 30, 1961.
Cayetano’s son was born in Ronda on February 16, 1932, on the family estate, El Recreo, Father and son mark the beginning of the second golden age of bullfighting in Ronda. A matador of exceptional qualities, powerful, with a profoundly classical style, Antonio was without question the best bullfighter of his time.
Known simply as “el Maestro”, Antonio attracted the attention and admiration of personalities such as the filmmaker Orson Welles and the writer Ernest Hemingway, both of whom became close friends. His intense personal rivalry with another great bullfighter, Luis Miguel Dominguín, peaked in a series of one-to-one bullfights throughout the season of 1956, the story was retold by Hemingway in his story «Verano sangriento», would also fill the pages of the newspapers. Over the years he received more than 30 gorings and, in 1981 he had to retire from the ring due to serious injuries that prevented him from fighting. He died in Seville in 1998.
FRANCISCO RIVERA ORDÓÑEZ
Grandson of Antonio Ordóñez, son of Francisco Rivera Paquirri, latest scion of the Ordóñez bullfighting dynasty along with his brother Cayetano, Francisco is the current impresario of the Real Maestranza bullring in Ronda. Each year as part of the festivities to mark the Feria de Pedro Romero he organises the now traditional corrida goyesca, novillada and corrida de rejones. Born in Madrid in 1974 his first public appearance in the bullring as a novillero was in Ronda in 1991. He graduated to the rank of matador in 1995, in Seville, sponsored by José Antonio Ruiz Espartaco, with Jesulín de Ubrique acting as a witness. He fought more than a thousand corridas over his career garnering triumphs in all the most important bullrings in Spain. In 2009 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Beaux Arts by King Juan Carlos I. He retired from the ring in 2012.
CAYETANO RIVERA ORDÓÑEZ
The second son of Francisco Rivera Paquirri was born in Madrid in 1977. He took up professional bullfighting much later than usual when, after a short, successful stint as novillero, he graduated to the rank of matador at the age of 29 in Ronda’s corrida goyesca of 2006 where his sponsor was his brother, Francisco. He went on to make his first appearance in the Madrid bullring was in 2008. Over the years he has proven himself to be a worthy master of the art of bullfighting; Cayetano is currently the last member of the Ordóñez dynasty still active in the ring.