Bullfighting in Madrid
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.
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.
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
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!
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.