Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A lot to do about… bullrings

Like cathedrals in Britain, every town and village has a plaza del toros and treats it like it’s the only one on the planet, or at least the most remarkable one… I for one have a hard time understanding the tradition and just by saying this I will probably step on a lot of toes…since it ís tradition! But still, somehow you can’t escape seeing at least two or three bullrings when visiting the area. So okay, I will skip the whole discussion whether or not the bullfighting tradition is one we have to let go off and try to review the plazas del toros as I would with their predecessors: the amphitheatres of the Romans. We do not often discuss if they were ‘right’ in having these fights for hundreds of thousands of spectators, probably since this is ‘ancient history’. We just look at the facts: where were these theatres placed, did the location have any significance, how many people could fit in? Is the theatre shaped oddly or is it a ‘prototype’?  Is it shaped oddly due to the landscape or is there another reason? Is there political significance linked to the building? How long has it been in use for? All these questions can also be directed to the plazas del toros and when I compare the bullrings in the Costa del Sol area, you might get a notion  of which arena is really ‘unique’ and if you really MUST visit one, you‘ll know which one to choose (instead of just believing every plaque or guide book in telling you ‘this is the most perfect, unique, brilliantly shaped, highest, biggest etc.’


So, let’s start with the one in Ronda. The bullring in this  town is supposed to be one of the oldest in Spain. Due to renewed popularity in the 18th century (the birth of ‘modern’ bullfighting), the Cavalry of Ronda decided to built a new bullring. The same architect that designed the famous bridge of Ronda, Martín de Aldehuela, designed the bullring. The construction of the bullring started in 1779 and the building was opened in 1785. The ring has a double gallery of arches and is fully covered. The arena has a diameter of 66 meters.  Within the plaza del toro you’ll find 136 columns, forming 68 arches. The Royal box has a covering roof of Arabic tiles. There are five rows for spectators to sit per stone rings, of which there are two.  
Since this bullring is located in a rural surrounding, not many bullfights are held here. However, for a small fee, the building is open to the public. Madonna recorded her video clip ‘Take a bow’ at this spot and other American television shows have recorded here as well. Being ‘the birthplace of Modern bullfighting’ and the certain elegance of the building, this one might actually be worth a visit. Inside the bullring there is a bullfighting museum, that is considered the most informative of these kinds of museums in the south of Spain. The museum doesn’t only cover bullfighting history, but saddle making as well and it has a collection of old fire arms.
Plaza de Toros Mijas
Yes, we can immediately state that the bullring in Mijas is really something else. It is oval shaped, which is of course an odd shape! The oval shape is a remarkable feature, but Mijas isn’t the only town with an oval bullring, although it is one of few. The bullring was built in 1900 and is located in the center of town, which is a higher part of the village. When you first notice the building, you might not even think it is a bullfighting ring. It looks a bit like the surrounding houses, the access gate is in perfect harmony with the landscape, as is the rest of the building, which explains its odd shape. The bullring was modernized from 1986-1977. You can only enter the bullring during planned events.

Plaza de Toros Malaga

The bullring in Malaga is called La Malagueta and is an old building as well. Built in 1876, it was immediately inaugurated with an event. The building was modernized in 2010. The arena measures 52 meters in diameter and has a museum. Being a bigger plaza del toros, located in a bigger town, bullfighting events occur more often. The building style is called neomudéjar.
The bullring in Antequera seems to have been build in a hurry. It was erected in 1848 and the upper sections were made out of wood.  Still, until 1980 the building remained in relatively good shape. In 1983 it was renovated. A new gate was constructed, although in the style of the 18th century architects of the area. But still, the façade we see today is a bit ‘fake’, as does the interior. It differs quite a bit from the original plaza del toros from 1848. Of course the good people of Antequera will tell you this is one of the most beautiful bullrings of Spain. It certainly is in good shape…The location is nice though: surrounded by gardens. Not many tourists visiting Antequera will do so in order to visit the bullring, it isn’t famous. But, if you are interested in architecture, this one might appeal to you. The building materials are all local and the use of old architectural styles are interesting.  The plaza del toros also houses a museum. This bullring is frequently in use.
The bullring of Estepona isn’t that old, it was built in 1972, but has typical asymmetric design and you can reach the upper terraces without climbing stairs. The feature that makes this plaza del toros unique are the museums that house inside the building: a bullfighting museum(of course), paleontology museum and ethnographical museum make the building still worth a visit. The best part: it’s free of charge!
I’ve done my bit, now it’s up to you. After a visit you can at least state you know what you’re talking about, without getting in to the animal rights discussion right away…Happy architecture gazing to you all!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The weather in Malaga in September

So, here we are, after the peak of the peak season. 

The traffic is more relaxed, the queue's are shorter, the beaches are calmer... and then there is that gorgeous weather of September and the first half of October. 

Sometimes warm, sometimes still even hot, but no longer suffocating. Sitting on the terrace of a tapa bar in smoothly calm square in Malaga, one can get the feel of an 'Indian summer'. 

Beach weather and lots of space... that is the autumn in Malaga. 
Marbella is never more pleasant than now. 

You know you are in a city, and you see the people pass by on the beach boulevard or have a drink or relax on the beach... but it is all so adorably calm and laid back. 

The occasional first shower doesn't disturb at all. It ads to the romantic feel of this season. 

Yes, when it comes to the weather and the ambiance, Malaga is never more beautiful than in September and October. 

If you have a rental car and can go to the more 'virginal' beaches, you are in for a great day. Because, yes, you can expect temperatures varying around 24 Centigrade, so tanning and going to the beach are still an option! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Luna Mora festival in September

If you are in Malaga in September and you happen to have a rental car... lucky you.

It's that time of the year again... Luna Mora!

On the evenings and nights of Friday the 6th and Saturday the 7th, and again the weekend after, Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th, you have the opportunity to experience a truly unique festival:

The village of Guaro is being transformed into a little Marrakech.  
Lit by 25.000 candles, this small hilltop village becomes the centre of wining, dining and nightlife of inland Malaga. 
Luna Mora - or 'Moorish moon' - celebrates the Moorish heritage of the region, and how!
Belly dancers, Moroccan tea tents, hundreds of stalls offering typical products, a whole street turning into a restaurant, Flamenco concerts...

For a few nights Guaro really is THE place to be.

There can be up to 10.000 visitors a night, giving this village the feel of a rock concert, but then for singles, couples, families and children alike.

If you don't like crowds: don't worry, it is only on the main avenue and in the main streets that it is (very) crowded: take a turn to the right or left, into a small alley, and Guaro is as typical and tranquil as always.

If you do like crowds, wining and dining, or just a romantic night and a very friendly ambiance... Luna Mora is your festival.


You will find Guaro inland at half an hour from Marbella, or 40 minutes from Fuengirola or Malaga.

In Marbella, take the exit Ojen-Coin at La Canada. Keep following that beautiful mountain road until you see the sign Monda. Drive into Monda, and in the centre of Monda follow the sign to Guaro.

If you come from the other direction (Malaga or Fuengirola), drive to Coin and, in Coin centre, follow the sign to Guaro.

Take care! It can be so busy, with even coaches coming from Madrid or Barcelona, that you might end up in a crazy traffic jam for hours. So the best thing to do is to be there in time!! Before 5 PM the roads are still open and tranquil... but arriving after 10 PM will make you waste hours in trying to find a parking spot.

The alternative: park your car at the very large open air parking specifically created for Luna Mora, at 4 Kms outside Coin - and hop on one of the very many shuttle buses which will take care of the last 4 Kms. These shuttle buses continue the whole night.