Bullfighting in Madrid

Corrida de Toros.

Bullfighting in Spain is a long-time tradition that attracts around a million Spaniards every year to witness this controversial sport. Some people love bullfighting and embrace the tradition whereas others look at you horrified when you have just announced you are attending a bullfight. My host “cousin” in Spain was the latter of these and didn’t know why I wanted to attend a bullfight, but it’s Spanish tradition and I wanted to experience all aspects of Spanish culture during my stay in Madrid. So off I went to the bullfight with my friends and let me tell you- if the actual bullfight isn’t your thing you should at least go to see the bullring, Las Ventas, because it’s beautiful.

For more information on tours of Las Ventas click here.

Bullfighting in Madrid
Bullfighting in Madrid

As you can see in the pictures above there are lots of people and vendors outside the bullring, so if you want to see it without the crowds and vendors I suggest going when bullfighting is not in season or when there is not a bullfight going on. Nevertheless, the bullring architecture is simply stunning.

Bullfighting in Madrid

I’m going to briefly explain the different stages of a bullfight and show some pictures but I will be completely honest– the bullfight is cruel and gruesome. Do not be confused, the bulls will die. Some of the people I went with didn’t understand the fact that you actually watch the bulls die during a bullfight so after the first bull they were horrified and left because they didn’t want to watch it happen five more times. Yes- there are typically six bulls & six matadors in every bullfight.

To start off the bullfight, all the participants enter the arena in a parade.

Bullfighting in Madrid

After the parade, the first matador enters the ring with the first bull and spends time observing how the bull charges the cape along with other movements and actions of the bull.

Bullfighting in Madrid

Next, two picadores enter the ring armed with a lance and are mounted on heavily padded and blindfolded horses. The bull is encouraged to attack the horses while the picadores attempt to stab the lance into the bull’s neck/shoulder area. This stage is necessary in a bullfight in order to weaken the bull.

Bullfighting in Madrid

In the next stage, three banderilleros attempt to plant two barbed sticks into the bull’s shoulders which further weakens the bull.

Bullfighting in Madrid

In the last stage, the matador re-enters the ring with a red cape and a sword. The matador demonstrates his control over the bull by attracting the bull in a series of passes. In the end, the matador attempts to thrust the sword into the bull’s neck and deliver a “quick and clean” death. Matadors that fail to deliver a quick death usually raise loud protests from the crowd and may ruin the whole performance.

Bullfighting in Madrid

This process is repeated five more times. I was certainly tired of watching it by the end but the first bull is definitely the hardest to watch because you don’t really know what to expect. The best part for me was trying to figure out what the crowd was yelling during the bullfight, they were really into the bullfight and spent most of the time yelling at the matador. I am definitely glad I went and experienced a traditional bullfight for myself however I would be fine if I never went again. It’s not exactly my idea of a lovely afternoon but it’s a large part of Spanish culture so I’m glad I experienced it.

Looking for more to do in Madrid? Check out San Ginés for delicious chocolate and churros.

Have you ever been to a bullfight? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, would you ever go to one?

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5 thoughts on “Bullfighting in Madrid

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