Festivals - Ronda's Feria Goyesca Part II

Goya's ladies in a horse drawn carriage, traditionally dressed, wearing ornate dresses and mantillas © Michelle Chaplow
Goya's ladies in a horse drawn carriage, traditionally dressed, wearing ornate dresses and mantillas © Michelle Chaplow

Part I | Part II

Goyesca Bullfight Part 2

Goya painted idyllic situations with bullfighters in traditional trajes de luces (bullfighting costumes) complete with stylish trousers and hair-nets. Goya's women were also traditionally portrayed, wearing ornate dresses and mantillas (traditional Spanish head-dresses). The painter portrayed the nobility that he knew so intimately because they were the people he spent many of his days painting. These paintings invoked views of the most idyllic of times.

The paintings of Goya had their effect upon the imagination of many, including the third of these three protagonists, Antoñio Ordóñez. If Pedro Romero was the best of Ronda's first great bullfighting dynasties then Antoñio Ordóñez was perhaps the greatest bullfighter of Ronda's second dynasty. By the time he retired in 1968, Antoñio had faced more than 1000 bulls in the ring.



In the early 1950s, Antoñio felt it proper to pay homage to Pedro Romero. Since 1954 was to be the 200th anniversary of his death, Ordóñez decided to celebrate the occasion with a corrida (bullfight) that captured not only the intensity of bullfighting but also the pageantry that was portrayed in the paintings of Goya. It was to be pure spectacle.

But the spectacle does not only occur in the bullring. The corrida is only a part of the weeklong festivities. Among other happenings, there is a contest for the Best Carriage and the competition is fierce. The horse-drawn carriages are crafted with incredible details and gilded in golden metal, the finest of wood, gleaming leather, and the most beautifully polished upholstery.

The sound of music also fills the airs since Ronda hosts a number of competitions during this week of celebrations. These include the Flamenco Singing Festival and the International Music and Dancing Festival. Andalucian culture is on show as much as is Andalucian passion. As well, the streets are lined with people arts and crafts from all over the Latin world. There is also the presentation of the "Ladies of the Goyesca" in which the incredible clothing is highlighted.

But in the end, the Goyesca is about the weekend of bullfighting. The finest of Spain's matadors perform in period costume on the Saturday and Sunday and the historic Plaza del Toros (bullring) once again heaves with excitement and people.

Statue of bullfighter in Goyesca Attire © Michelle Chaplow

Statue of bullfighter in Goyesca Attire

The bullfight occurs in Ronda's venerated stone bullring, one of the oldest in the country and except for this important event, only used as a museum. Every year, the faithful gather, many dressed in their finest Goyesca garb and riding in the finest of period carriages through the town, ending up in the bullring. The Goyesca is a different type of experience, even for aficionados of bullfighting. There is also a corrida in which the bulls are fought from horseback, harkening back to the earlier Jerez style of bullfighting.

This is a time for all types of people to see and be seen. During the 50th anniversary celebrations, for example, famous personages from all over Spain were flown in to Ronda by helicopter to share in the celebrations. Even many years before this, international personalities like Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway attended the Feria Goyesca. Both were good friends with Antoñio Ordóñez; so much so that after his death, Wells had his ashes scattered upon the Ordóñez' Ronda finca.

The 2008 Goyesca bullfights in Ronda took place on September 6. One of the features of this year's spectacular fashion displays was supposed to have been Cayetano Rivera Ordoñez's bullfighting costume, to be designed by none other than Giorgio Armani. Jacket, cloak and the traditional, tight-fitted pants were planned by Armani specifically for bullfighter Cayetano Rivera Ordoñez. And it so happens that this is not the first time that a famous name designed for the Ordoñez family as Picasso himself created grandfather Antonio Ordoñez's suit so many years ago. Unfortunately, this Armani creation was unable to see the light of day that year as Cayetano Rivera Ordoñez suffered a bullfighting accident and could not participate. It was worn in 2009 much to the delight of Duquesa de Alba and Seville designers Victorio & Lucchino. (Hola)  

If You Plan to Attend.

  • If you show up in Ronda without hotel reservations, don't think you will be able to find a room in Ronda or for miles around. The Feria Goyesca has every bed in the area booked months and months in advance. It might be a better idea to make day trips to attend. 
  • Tickets for the bullfighting are also hard to come by. They can be bought from ticket touts on the street around the bullring, however, but be prepared to pay an exorbitant amount for the privilege of attending.
Feria dress