Sometimes in life you walk into a place and can still feel the excitement and pulse from a crowd long departed. The air just sizzles with an electric and anticipatory sort of energy. Rhonda’s Plaza de Toros is just such a place. Completed in 1785 it stands on the western edge of the city and has served as an important entertainment vista for its citizens ever since.
One of my most precious memories is my daughter using her coat to flag her father the “bull.” She whirled and twirled as if in a ballet, sliding this way and that in order to avoid the “horns” of the great beast. She was winning until the bull grabbed her up and tickled her and that was the end of her bullfighting career.
Alongside the ring is the Bullfighting Museum which celebrates the sport with elaborate costumes worn by the great fighters, paintings and books. Wall art shows the fighting from differing perspectives, gilded saddles abound and you can read many writings of famous authors who have been enamored with the men who own the ring once they step inside. The famous bullfighting matadors of the Romero family also get their curtain call here.
Another nearby museum is the Bandolero’s Museum which celebrates the Spain’s romanticized bandits. With four galleries of paintings, historical documents and dioramas it is a great small place to get out of the heat on a hot summers day.
The Interpretation Centre of Wine is a treasure for the city of Rhonda. Occupying one of the grand old houses it showcases ancient winemaking to the present day. Included is cork making, information regarding grape varietals, and the school of wine tasting. If you want to learn more about wine and what to look for in a good one this is the place to visit. Best part…a store in which you can buy your favorite to take on a picnic in the nearby hills.
One of our best “finds” in Spain was the nearby Pileta Caves. While it is somewhat of a hike to reach them the treasures inside are worth it. We bought tickets at the entrance and were handed a lantern as there is no electricity in the dark and somewhat spooky cave. Walking into the caves is like taking a step back into time.Stalactites and stalagmites abound and are a dazzling but it is the numerous old cave paintings dating from 32,000 BC that are the true treasure. As you journey through the silent caves, the occasional splash of water breaking the silence, you will see drawings of fish, goats, horses and signs the meaning of which have yet to be determined. This is one place that should not be missed!
Rhonda Spain is one of my favorite stops in the entire country. Romantic, historic and full of culture, museums and great food; it is a place you will never forget and a city to which you will long to return.
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