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What to do on a Holiday?
I wrote my mother that Saturday, July 18, 1964 was a National Holiday -- of Spain's independence and nothing "marches". So. We went on a city tour and to the Prado and then went to the hotel and had a nap. My letter continued...
At 5:30 we aroused and packed up again and went to a bullfight. Although I had said I wasn't interested in doing that, it was a holiday and nothing else was open. My sister fed niece dinner there. My niece really liked the bullfight, although she somewhat mistook the bull - pointing and saying "See kitty". She was a great attraction at the bullfight (admiring attention) and has been very good.
My sister had previously been to a bullfight in Mexico with her husband. My mother's comment was that she didn't think I was going to go to a bullfight but actually I went to two of them in Spain - this one in Madrid, and one in Valencia with my husband. I thought it was interesting. I had read about it beforehand so I know what to expect and blood doesn't particularly squick me out.
I don't know what we paid for our tickets, but today (2009) the cheapest tickets in the sun would be 8.00-18.00 €
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This is not everyone's cup of tea so to speak however bullfighting is to Spain what beer is to Germany. The event starts with the main players parading around the ring before the President gives the go ahead to start. The bull enters and the act is played out until the bull is dragged out by a tractor. If the crowd is not pleased with the performance of the bull then they wave green flags at the President who must wave a green flag himself to have the current bull replaced. At the end of the series of fights the players parade around again and either get cheers or abuse (including the throwing of cushions which is the biggest insult as it has been resting against the spectators bottom!). The fight I went to had King Juan Carlos attending. The cost is approx 500 pesos for the cheaper seats but you can pay 6 times that (like I did) if you buy your ticket from a local taxi driver....... When I got back to my hotel room at about 2am there were highlights of the bullfight I had attended on TV!!
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Tarde de toros
Bullfighting is a national passion; if you are interested, you must visit Las Ventas, the main bull ring. But even if you do not like this activity, you can visit it (when there are no bullfightings!), because it is a very nice and traditional building.
Las corridas de toros son una pasión nacional; si te interesa, debes visitar Las Ventas, la principal plaza de toros. Pero incluso si no te gusta esta actividad, puedes visitarla (¡cuando no hay corrida!) porque es un precioso y tradicional edificio.
Bullfighting in Las Ventas
Bullfighting, most people are against it, and still there's that piece of curiosity behind it.
The arena in Madrid is Las Ventas and is one of the largest bullfight Arena's in the world. Not mention a very nice looking building as well. Ticketprices vary from under €5,- to as much as you want to pay.
Shows last for a few hours and about 6 bulls will be killed. Though it's certainly not funny to see bulls getting killed (there's blood involved), it still is intriguing to experience this Spanish tradition.
This is certainly NOT for the light-hearted as all bulls are killed but it didn't do anything to me. I even enjoyed all the colorfull bullfighters costumes and how gracefully they did their moves - almost like a ballet!
Muleta A small red cloth stretched over a stick (Palo)
Capote The red cape
Paseillo The parade of fighters at the beginning
Corrida A Bullfighting show
Espada The matador's sword also called the ESTOQUE
Matador The top bullfighter
Novilladas Beginners fights
Rejoneadores Horse-mounted fighters
Toril Enclosure for the bulls
Picador Fighter to weaken the bull
Banderillas Barbed darts on coloured shafts placed into the bull's shoulders
Puntilla A dagger that is stabbed into the base of the bull's skull
Puerta grande The main door to the arena
Gradas Highest seats at the back of the ring (cheapest seats)
Barreras Front seats
Sol/Sombra Sun/Shade - the choice as to where you sit
Plaza de Toros Bullring
Las Ventas tour
We didn't go to an actual bullfight (I don't think I'd really want to) but we did go on a tour of Las Ventas, the bullring. Whether you like or agree with bullfighting or not, it is an important part of Spanish culture and tradition. The bullring itself is certainly a beautiful, ornate building and I thought the tour was interesting and disturbing at the same time. We began by looking in the museum which chronicled the history of bullfighting in Madrid and commemorated some of the more famous bullfighters (and bulls), and then went on the guided tour. The tour lasted for about an hour, was given in about four different languages and extremely informative, and you could ask whatever you wanted. Even though there wasn't a bullfight going on at the time, by the end of the tour we knew so much about bullfighting and had so much of a feel of the building that it felt like there might have been.
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Watching "corrida", or bullfighting
Even if you are not sure whether you like it or not (like me), you should definitely take the chance and visit the sunday bullfights if you are in Madrid from spring to early autumn - during the season when they take place.
It's a really weird spectacle - and what was most suprising is that the majority of the audience were actually not toursits, as I would have thought, but madrilenos themselves. Moreover, it's a kind of family outing for some of them - right in front of me the family had brought huge bags full of sandwiches, water, wine, etc and they actually brought children to watch the bullfight.
A bit of advice - be sure to take something warm and comfy to sit on - the seats are actually stone steps, and though they hand out the pillows at the entrance, it's better to have something in case they run out or charge money for them.
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The bullfight museum at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is one of the capital’s less well known. Even during the afternoons or weekends (when the museum is, inexplicably, closed) Las Ventas is worth a visit just to check out the magnificent architecture of the world’s premier bullring, but the museum itself provides a unique insight into this cruel, passionate and intensely Spanish ‘art-form.’ Love it or hate it, this museum proves that there is far more to bullfighting than meets the eye.
A brutal "sport" (Part 1)
I wished I had listened to the traveler who warned me against going to to a bullfight. I had never been to one before (or even seen one) so I had no idea what to expect. (I am also an avid animal lover.) It was an absolutely awful experience. I am not going to get into anything political. I only hope that my story will persuade someone not to support this brutal "sport". I am incuding the actual entry from my journal (in 2 parts since it's a little long).
“We sat outside in the sun enjoying a coffee before getting on the Metro to Las Ventas bullring for the bullfight. The Metro, which was really dirty, was packed. Obviously a lot of people were going to the bullfight. We arrived at Las Ventas not quite sure what to expect. We found our seats which were front row in the shade. The seats in a bullring are divided into 2 sections – in the shade and in the sun. The seats in the sun are less expensive – but for a 6 p.m. bullfight the sun really goes down within the first 30 minutes anyway. Also the lower you are in the ring, the more expensive the seats. We didn’t really know where our seats were other then in the shade when we ordered them but apparently were given these “great” seats because the bulls were young. I did notice that most of the people in the front row seats were foreigners and in fact, the groups of people on both sides of us were American. I’m sure that says something about this whole experience. With great ceremony, a band started to play, men on horses and the matadors all entered the ring. Everyone bowed at the upper area reserved for the king (or other VIPs). The matadors picked up their capes (which by the way were pink, not red). A couple of matadors stayed in the ring and the first bull entered. He looked as though he really wasn’t sure what to do – he actually just stood in place for a few seconds.” (Continued)
A brutal "sport" (Part 2)
(Continued from previous)
“One of the matadors waved his cape at the bull and the bull kind of trotted over to him. It would be several minutes before the tone changed. I was busy looking around and taking pictures when I looked at the bull and suddenly realized that he had blood by his shoulder blades – not a lot but some. A man on a horse (which was covered in some type of armor) had pierced the bull with a knife/sword. The matadors stuck knives that were hidden in their capes into the bull. And then matadors took 2 large knives and plunged them into the bull. I think they did this 2 or 3 times. It seemed to go on forever. By now I was crying and ready to throw up. The bull was making some awful noises and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. It was the most horrible and cruel thing I have ever witnessed. This was no sport – they taunted and tormented a helpless animal. I was just devastated as the poor bull was down on 2 legs and a cart was brought in – presumably to take away the dead bull. I didn’t stay to see what happened next. The season for bullfighting is several months long and 6-8 bulls are killed each weekly bullfight. I just can’t see how this is allowed to go on."
Because it's a tradition
I wanted to see a bullfight once in my life and I figured I couldn't go to Spain and not see one. Surprisingly, I was able to focus on the "show" part of it. So I was able to enjoy it, but I wouldn't go see another one.
You have to remember you can't walk in during a fight and when you do go in, you have to sit down very fast - my mother stood there looking for our seats and they tried to kick us out when the fight started because they thought we wanted to remain standing.
Not a fan myself but an option in Madrid
Personally I am not a fan of bullfighting and to be honest I am completely against it. This, however is a Spanish Tradition and for those who wish to see it, it is also available in Madrid. Check with your hotel receptionist and you will get endless leaflets with information and details on how to see one of these shows.
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Las Ventas monumental
it is monumental and a great cultural tradition even with controversies in our modern world, this is Spain,and at Madrid you see the best of it. The biggest show is for the feast of San Isidro, Madrid patron saint in May each year.
It has served as concert venues, and tennis matches for the Davis Cup team etc. an icon in Madrid and a must see
it was inaugurated on June 17, 1931. It has a seating capacity of 25,000 and is regarded as the home of bullfighting in Spain. YES!
it has a wonderful bulls or museo taurino in the back,great this is the city show on it
and I used to lived two metro stops from it, for four years !love it, and each time in the city stops by here lol!!!
Update, the latest is the city approve to have the roof covered so very soon you will have the arena with a roof ,which will make it more profitable and hold concerts etc no matter the weather. It will have 110 meters in diameter and light aluminum build in France actually Strasbourg,and will arrive to Madrid by trailers to assembled the biggest metallic structure dismantled in the world !!!
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Memorable, etched in my Memory. I liked it.
Wow. There was quite a commotion outside before it started. I think tourists only took pictures outside but dared not enter, especially since it was The Rookies Night, so all the bull fighters were young guys, inexperienced. Costly in the bull fighting industry. The bulls bled so much....
First, the music and procession occurs. very nice.
Then the first bull roars out of the gates! Angry and aggressive. The five or six mini bull fighters prance around and hide mostly behind the guards surrounding the stadium. I heard somebody once got killed seated near the grounds, so sit back.
One of the bull fighters assistants got tossed like speghetti to the ground 5 feet ahead!! Luckily the other guys came to the rescue and distracted it. oooh!
Thend the first torture is the mounted Cowboy prodding it.
Then the flying troops jump and stab the bulls back somehow not running into the horns, narrowly.
Finally the bull fighter himself, caviler-like, bold, courageously and with eloquence like an art form entertains the crowd, until striking the killer blow with the samuri sword. Hope you liked my account of the evening.
Ole at the Bull Fighting Arena
Having read about these bull fights in childhood books, never did I expect to see a real one in Madrid. It was done in a real traditional way too, with costumes and all. While some scenes were a little bloody, I took it with a pinch of "culture" salt. Afterall, its not like they wasted anything-- these conquered bulls were later served as fine dinners across lavish restaurants in Madrid.
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