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Bullfighting in Madrid

Updated on October 21, 2015


Whenever I think about Spain, I always think about its food, all-night parties, loud people, Rioja wine, Flamenco and Bullfighting.

Bullfights are among the most popular shows in Madrid as it is one of the oldest and most established customs in Spain.

The Bull

It is impossible to come to Madrid and not to encounter bullfighting. In a way, the Bull is associated with Spain and its culture. The road to the South is still ‘decorated' with panels of enormous bulls, anatomically correct, of course. They used to advertise a brand of drink but now they are only decoration - A symbol of Spain. You will see images of bulls and Toreros on the walls in the form of posters advertising the next corrida (local name for a bullfight), in T-shirts, ornaments, tourist souvenirs,... You might even see bull's mention on your menu in a restaurant!

Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid
Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid

Plaza de Toros Las Ventas.

Madrid hosts the largest bullring in Spain. It is called Plaza de Toros Las Ventas. The Madrileños called it only, Las Ventas. But if Las Ventas is the largest bullring, it is not the oldest, as it only dates back to 1929.

Las Ventas is considered by many to be the world centre of bullfighting and has a seating capacity of almost 25,000. Madrid's bullfighting season begins in March and ends in October. Bullfights are held everyday during the festivities of Madrid's Patron Saint, San Isidro. Otherwise, bullfights are held on Sunday.

Bullfighting is a national emblem and everybody finds their place there. Unlike other ‘entertainments' bullfighting is for the rich and poor. The price for a ticket varies a lot, from 13 euros to almost 400 euros for a sit on the shade in the place of honour. Lots of people buy seasonal tickets as it can get very crowded and difficult to find tickets for the big names near the Corrida date.

Whether you agree or not with the idea of Bullfighting, Las Ventas is worth seeing just for its architecture. It is built in a Neomudéjar style. That is, it combines the Spanish style with the Islamic influence. This plaza de Toros is also used to host music concerts and other events outside of the bullfighting season.

Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

There is something very sexy about a torero

My experience

I must admit that I have never been fascinated by Bullfighting and always thought that it was cruel. But when a friend invited me to see her boyfriend ‘toreando' I could not say no to temptation and even knowing that I usually faint at the sight of a cut finger I decided to go. I was very apprehensive, but the thought of young men in skin-tight trousers kept me going. There is something very sexy about a torero, perhaps their graceful movements or their elegant standing?.

When the Corrida day finally arrived, we were one of the first in the Plaza. As the girlfriend of the Torero, my friend had special privileged seats on the shady side of the Plaza. I was astounded to find that the public was composed not only of blood-thirsty men, but also of beautiful young girls, older ladies and even families with very young children!

The spectacle started with a band playing Spanish tunes like the paso doble. The ambiance was magnificent, the sound of the band, the show of the horses and toreros parading in their colourful costumes in the ring; the sun shining still strong but low on the sky. I was really enjoying the show. The first bull came out and the torero played around with him. It was fair play, elegant and distinguished until the time for the real thing arrived. I will spare you the details, all I can say is that I could not stay until the end and I had terrible nightmares for a whole week after. The smell of blood and the sounds stayed in my mind for a long time, enough to put me off Corridas for life!!

My advice? If you want to see Las Ventas, see it from the outside. If you want to enjoy a spectacle in the bullring, better wait until they are having a pop concert!

Banning bullfighting

Each year, approximately 10,000 bulls die in bullfights:

  • In 1991, The Canary Islands banned Bullfighting.
  • In July 2010, Catalonia’s Parliament banned bullfighting. The last bullfight in Catalonia took place on September 2011.
  • In 2011, Ecuador banned killing animals for entertainment.

Spanish singer Alaska: "The naked truth: Bullfighting is cruel"

Spanish singer Alaska: "The naked truth: Bullfighting is cruel"
Spanish singer Alaska: "The naked truth: Bullfighting is cruel"

Naked ‘Corpses’ Bare the Bloody Cruelty of Bullfighting in Pamplona

The protesters offered a stark reminder that the same bulls who slip and slide down Pamplona’s cobbled streets will meet an agonizing end in the town’s bullring.
The protesters offered a stark reminder that the same bulls who slip and slide down Pamplona’s cobbled streets will meet an agonizing end in the town’s bullring. | Source


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    • tastiger04 profile image


      5 years ago

      Great info, bull fights sound pretty intense! Although the culture and history of it are interesting. Voted up :)

    • profile image

      Madrid Bullfights 

      7 years ago

      I really enjoyed watching the plaza del toro video. Brings back so many memories of when me and my wife have visited Madrid and seen some fantastic bullfights. I even saw one where the bull was spared. Fancy that! Hardly ever happens. I also went running with the bull once, which I prefered, as it was more involving - if not a little frightening..

    • jennifer_brooke profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the article; I lived in a Madrid for a while as well - one of my best friends wanted to see a bullfight, and because he was traveling from America to visit me in Spain, I felt I had to go with him - after the first 10 minutes, I left and went to the bar in the plaza while he finished the "show" - like Joe Strummer, I too, was rooting for the bull to kill the matador - it was one of the most terrible things I had ever seen! As the one man paraded along on a blindfolded horse to stab the bull, the bull then attacked the horse (of course he would), the poor horse was attacked and on the ground squirming while the wounded bull was trying to save himself - another bull kept trying to escape the ring, where he was being baited, he wanted nothing to do with any of it - it was horrific! Not one of my many Spanish friends and family support it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Princessa, thanks for your post.

      I am also spanish, and I've never went to the corridas. I know it is easy to see the more cruel side of the toros.

      By other side, bulls live free and savage timelife, in the "dehesa" (pasture) in floks. Bullfighting generates enough money to keep enormous extensions of pasture free. There live many endangered animals such as lynx, and many others.

      The bulls used for bullfighting are the direct descent of the Uro, which has been extinguished.

      As conservacionist, I think bullfighting supports a big ecosystem in a serious danger. I think it will dissapear in a few years if bullfighting is forbidden.

      Thank you for your interesting post.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Mambord: I certainly would like to see less blood in the ring (if none at all) in some places you can see a corrida and the bull doesn't get killed, I think that is a lot better.

      Answering your question... Yes, as a matter of fact I was there yesterday! I have writen a few hubs about Paris. At the moment I am living in France, about 2 hours away from Paris, so I get to see it quite often.

    • MAMBORD profile image


      8 years ago from spain

      Nice descripcion of the bullfight's atmosphere. I don't care much about this tradition, and neither I can see how the bull die slowly. Some rules about bullfightng must be changed. Certainly spanish are loud...have you been in Paris? Thanks.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      Joe Average: I am not defending bullfighting, but trying to throw some light in one of the oldest traditions is Spain. I don't make excuses to animal cruelty but somehow is different when you grow with it. I grew in South America and over there we have a big Bullfighting festival in October to honour a Christian/Catholic celebration. While travelling in France I also discovered that bullfigthing has deep roots here as well.

      All I can say is that I always looked in awe to these festivals until I went to see one myself and ended up disgusted by the blood and cruelty. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to see by ourselves to understand something and make our own opinions.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      hypnodude: Bullfighting is cruel to the animals. I wish the show was limited to the first part only where the torero shows his grace and the bull is not hurt yet. After that it is just far too bloody.

      Curious Traveller: it is a show that it is certainly not suited for everyone.

      travelse: that sounds interesting, I'll have a look.

    • hypnodude profile image


      8 years ago from Italy

      I don't know if it's true but I've read that before going into the ring bulls get their genitals bonded so they can't run, their eyes get covered with irritants so they can't see and the banderillas are covered with anesthetic so the bull can be killed by a five years old. Without taking into account the fact that all that blood loss makes the bull strong like a sheep.

      Any time a see a corrida I hope the bull to give some good hits, but it happens very infrequently. I'd like to see though a real fight between an healthy bull and a man. Probably the man would resist for around five minutes, if very fast.

      Having said that quite a good hub. :)

    • profile image

      Sharon Alvis 

      8 years ago

      I want to go to spain so badly...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i love those colorful pictures of those spanish men. theymake me laugh!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This hub is very informative about Spains bullfighting culture. I have a hub on Western Kenya bullfighting but is different from that of Spain in terms of the environment. In Kenya we doi it outside in the fields.

    • Curious Traveller profile image

      Curious Traveller 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very informative. I have often wanted to go to see a bullfight but haven't yet managed to arrange it.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      John2: I have been there, and believe me, it is sad how some of the bulls look so scared when they enter the bullring... I really felt sorry for them.

      franciaonline: Thanks for the comment, I hope you enjoy the other hubs too ;-)

    • franciaonline profile image


      10 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Princessa,

      I read that bit about you in your hub before I read "Bullfightging in Madrid". Omigod, I said, what an exciting and colorful life this person is having! Then I read your hub on the bullfight. Great experience indeed.

      I'll go back to your other hubs. I like your style of writing.


    • John2 profile image


      10 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      At the very least, being slaughtered in front of a large crowd after being given a chance to show your fierce nature, sure beats being canned straight into corned beef instead. ;)

      Nice Hub. Great topic. Excellent Photos.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      joe strummer: Thank you very much for your comment and review. Bullfighting is cruel and it is amazing how popular it is. I stayed in Andalucia for five years and the bullfighting tradition was everywhere. I must also say that where I grew up -in Peru- there is also a very strong bullfighting tradition. In Lima we have the most ancient bullfighting ring in South America!

      It would be nice to put an end to such barbaric tradition.

    • joe strummer profile image

      joe strummer 

      10 years ago from berlin-babylon

      hi there, thanks for this page.

      i was born and raised in Spain. I have never attended a bullfight in my whole life.

      i have to say that bullfighting is part of what I call the deep Spain, the part which inevitably is related to Spain´s black legend  through 20th century history and pop culture in its many expressions, from  Franco´s fascism to cinema to Hemingway´s novels through the so called clichés impregnated in the subconsciousness of prejudice which unfortunately live in many human brains.

      I´d like to point out, that actually bullfighting is not really that popular in Spain as its thought to be.Only in some parts of Spain, like Andalucia or Madrid.

      But, I have to admit, they are supported by a small but powerful lobby, which stand with claws and teeth against any kind of regulation of this bloody tradition.


      I remember in my childhood, my great-grandma watching the "toros" on TV, and my little sister and I were also there, watching the bloodbath over the sand.

      We were so impressed, that our reactions went from filth to fear. then we just felt nothing more about it. Just numbness.  When we grew up a bit, we only wanted that the toro could finally kill the matador. I know its a brutal thought, but its what you get when you expose children to such an unfair cruelty. The loneliness of the bull, his eyes crying for a world that´s just to stupid and cruel. The beautiful animal, surrounded by many arrogant macho men with all kinds of weapons in their hands.

      So, thanks for your review, but as you say the romantic vision you had of a "corrida" dissapears rapidly as the bloodshed begins.

      i also remember attending to anti-bullfighting demos, we stood outside the "plaza de toros" and threw red paint to the mostly high society snotty  conservative audience . That was the closest I´ve been to a bullfight, no I actually was inside the bullring once, but watching another kind of animal, Mr bob Dylan playing the blues and rock. Way nicer than a corrida.


      i really hope that this bloody tradition ends soon.

      But I also find weird that americans and englishpeople find it so nightmarish, and then they bomb whole countries, killing innocent people and nobody cares about it.

      Maybe it´s too far away, to see the dead, and anyway the CNN won´t show the pictures, the revolution will not be televised


      Thank you princesa

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Ripplemaker: The Show is really beautiful. There is a great ambiance, the band playing the music, people cheering, the horses parading. Even the start of the corrida is gorgeous as the "matador" displays his art. Unfortunately it ends up with killing the bull (the matanza) and that is a very horrible bloody show !

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I love the photos you placed here. It's colorful and the men truly look good! But I believe I would also stay away from bullfighting scenes. I don't like to have nightmares too!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      lady luck: That is what Spanish singer Alaska is trying to do. You can see the poster on the news section of this hub. It is a very shocking poster where she appears naked and wounded like a bull in a corrida.

    • lady luck profile image

      lady luck 

      10 years ago from Boston



    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      glycodoc: Thanks for passing by and leaving a comment.

      22jakes22: Thank you. I believe that Mexico has the second biggest bullring in the world. I hope you enjoyed it.

      Doc Rich and Danykeyes: Plenty of interesting places to go in Madrid, don't give it a miss!

      oberbreckling: hello, it is pretty bloody -I will certainly not be back! Where will I take you next? Keep looking... you might be surprised.

      fishskinfreak2008: Siestas? I do love them, what do you want to know about them?

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image


      10 years ago from Fremont CA

      How about siestas (afternoon naps)?

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi princessa looks like it would be pretty bloody IM IN! I would love to see one live take care of the dreams later That's one thing I like about you seems like you have been to a lot of places.where you takin us next?~cool`cya

    • dannykeyes profile image


      10 years ago

      Now, you got my attention to go to Madrid to catch bull-fighting. Love the pictures.. they are GREAT!

    • Doc Rich profile image

      Doc Rich 

      10 years ago

      I'm adding Madrid to my "must visit" list. Love the pictures...they put me right into the seats:)

    • 22jakes22 profile image


      10 years ago from Baltimore MD. USA

      Went to a bull fight in Mexico pretty cool !!!

      to your success


    • glycodoc profile image


      10 years ago

      Very good photos to go with your article!


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