When I first came to Spain, like many tourist, I wanted to immerse myself in the country’s rich history and culture; so I decided to attend one of Spain’s most famous rituals, the Bullfight. The sport has a longstanding history in Spain and many people involved in the sport pride themselves in keeping this part of Spain’s history alive. Over time, the fight has evolved to what it is today. According to The Guardian, “ the contemporary fight started in Spain in the early 18th century. Horseback bullfights had been popular in medieval times, but in 1726 matador Francisco Romero began fighting on foot with a cape and a sword – sparking a new fashion.”
The matadores (which translates to “the killers”) and their assistants each lined up on the ground floor of the stadium. As they entered, each of them prayed before the bull came into the ring. It was at this moment that I realized this was going to be an entirely different show than I’d imagined.
After the bull was released into the ring and the first round ended, it became clear to us that the point of the show was to kill the bull. Unbeknownst to myself, Bullfighting in Spain is quite controversial. After attending the show, I understood why.
After noticing a few startled faces in the crowd and seeing tourists exit the arena when the bull was laid to rest, it occurred to me that many people visiting Spain aren’t aware of what actually goes on at a bullfight.
So, here are a few things you should know before going to see a bullfight:
The event is held outside in an open arena and is typically in the summer months. Unless you purchase seats under the awning, come prepared to sit in the sun for a couple of hours. However, ice cold beverages are available in the stadium to keep you cool.
The majority of the seats in the stadium are made of cement and aren’t really comfortable. If you plan to stay for the entire show there are vendors inside the building who sell cushions for about 1.20 euros to keep your backside comfortable.
Be prepared to see blood, lots of blood. Not human blood, but blood from the bull. Throughout the show, the bull is jabbed with various sharp objects by the assistants (banderilleros) to decrease its stamina so that the matador can face the bull one-on-one. (If you’re not good with gore, it could be tough to sit through the entire show.)
The bull dies at the hands of the matador after he uses his sword to jab the bull one last time.
Each fight takes about 20 minutes and there are six rounds and at the end of each round, a bull dies.
Although bull fighting is still popular in cities across Spain and Latin America, over the years there’s been a steep decline in the amount of shows due to the controversy. Madrid is one of the few cities in Spain where Bull fighting is still legal. It’s been banned in regions like Catalonia. Since its ban, thousands have gathered across the country to protest the continuance of the bullfight. The event primarily thrives off sales from tourists.
What are your thoughts on the cultural practice? Tell us below!
Ebonee Williams is freelance journalist and travel blogger who loves meeting and being inspired by people from all over. She’s currently traveling around the world with a friend and blogging about their adventures. When she’s not exploring and researching tips for their next destination, she enjoys and snuggling up with a good book and binge watching Netflix. Keep up with her adventures on her blog and her Instagram page.