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Wandering the labyrinthine streets of Ronda’s town centre we are at once aware of its Arabian past. We can see escutcheoned palaces,  residences of conquerors, alternating with small houses endowed with peculiar grille works and permanently coloured white. Here is the astonishing Moctezumas’ Palace, today Joaquin Peinado’s Museum. It is very close to the Casa del Gigante, Santa María church, and Mondragón Palace. The Moctezumas’ Palace displays a fine escutcheoned porch, the heraldry of which indicates the identity of the family who built it: don Pedro Manuel de Moctezuma and his wife doña María de Rojas. On the lintel on the left hand side we find the Moctezumas’ imperial arms; on the opposite side the Rojas’ coat of arms, and in the centre the capital letters A and M, a religious acronym of Ave Maria, to indicate that the place is consecrated.

The building, aside from its artistic value, has an interesting historical role:  it is a testimony to the sojourn in Ronda of the last of the Aztec emperor’s heirs. The Moctezuma family of Ronda was the main branch and included the only direct male heir of the last Aztec emperor, Moctezuma II (1502-1520). Carlos V granted the family their own coat of arms in October 1539. We can see this historic coat of arms wrought on the front of the Palace: thirty crowns representing the thirty states which formed the Mexican empire, the eagle, the ocelot, the griffons and the imperial crown.

The inside of the building is of the same design as traditional Rondeña dwellings of the XIX and XX centuries, with its rooms arranged around two courtyards. The first of them, with a straight porticoed gallery above two columns of flat timber, forms a sort of antechamber from the rest of the inner space. The second one is only porticoed on its north side, through a lintel gallery with columns above high plinths. The chapel built in 1902 helps to close the other end of this fine space.

Among the different rooms of the two floors devoted to exhibiting Joaquin Peinado’ pictorial works, the Salón Mudejar is outstanding. The name comes from the fine panelling that covers the sitting-room. We can categorise them as part of the Mudejar-Renaissance aesthetic. The S-shaped finials of the corbels and armoured lintels, the reels and the cross pieces and eight pointed stars with rosettes like suns, are all clearly of the Mudejar style.