Spanish Bull Fighting

A little disclaimer about this post: this topic is controversial and may make some people uncomfortable or upset. Take it for what it is. I am not saying I agree with the concept of bull fighting but it is a part of traveling and discovering cultural traditions, whether you agree with them or not.

Each country is usually associated with a particular symbol representative of the culture or lifestyle. France is commonly associated with the Eiffel Tower, Italy with gondolas, Germany with Oktoberfest, and Spain with bull fighting. This past weekend I attended a bull fight at the Plaza de Toros in Madrid. Yes, this is a controversial event both worldwide and within Spain.  The arguments between it being a cultural tradition or animal cruelty can go on for hours. It is not uncommon to see protests right outside the plaza. Nevertheless, the plaza is usually close to full capacity and the prestige associated with the “art” of bullfighting is still celebrated by many Spaniards and visitors alike. I kept these photos as PG as possible due to the sensitiveness of this “tradition”. I apologize if these photos or topic offends anyone, but it is an event that still goes on commonly today. I see it as part of a traveling experience.  Feel free to comment as you would like.

bloglovin

Advertisements

86 Comments

Filed under Events, Spain

86 responses to “Spanish Bull Fighting

  1. thesugarlamp@yahoo.com

    You attended a bullfight so don’t say you don’t support it. The money you paid for your entry ticket certainly did. Despite your disclaimer, the least you could’ve done is to honour the valiant bull by getting some decent photos. Instead you post something that falls far short of that.
    Very disappointing.

  2. This reminds me of the children’s book Ferdinand, about the bull who wanted to sit and smell the flowers instead of fight.

  3. Parles tu francais ou que anglais? ;))
    moi perso j’adore…oui j’ai honte! je suis allée voir une corrida ya 5 ans vers Madrid et j’ai eté impressionnée ca fait partie de leur culture quoi.
    Tes photos sont superbes en tout cas,

    • I speak English and Spanish but I am starting French in September. So in a couple months I should be able to understand that comment without using Google Translate. The bull fight was interesting. Not sure if I would ever go again, but it is an experience I wouldn’t take away. I am glad you like the photos. 🙂

  4. realanonymousgirl2011

    I went to Spain for my honeymoon and while in Sevilla we had planned on seeing a bullfight, but after the dreaded June heat of nearly 100 degrees and watching those poor animals on TV in our hotel room we couldn’t bring ourselves to go.

    • The heat in Sevilla can be brutal. I was there two summers ago in June. To be honest, a bull fight is hard to watch. Hopefully you enjoyed the rest of Sevilla. It is absolutely lovely.

  5. when i lived in spain i could never bring myself to see bull fighting..lovely photos though!!

    stop by sometime<3
    http://passportglamour.blogspot.com

    • The first time I came here, I couldn’t either. The only thing that persuaded me were free tickets and some friends with words of encouragement. How did you enjoy Spain when you were here?

  6. I love the photos, and although I have trained as a bullfighter myself – read my book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight – I personally find ‘rejoneo’, horseback-bullfighting, cruel. It makes me think too much of a father with a favourite, clever and dextrous son – the horse – and a slow, dark and heavy one – the bull – and he pits them against one another. He takes so little risk himself, it is a “gentleman’s pursuit”, the matador in the old days (matador means killer) was his servant on the ground who finished it off. “Viva la democracia!” Xander

  7. Bulls are too dangerous

  8. I must see the bull fight one day

  9. Marija sKeri

    I must admit hat your pictures are pure art!! However the bullfight as event even as a cultural thing is more than cruel!! I don’t support even circus events!! My hubby is from Spain and he can always tell you that even now big percent of Spaniards doesn’t like this event and doesn’t understand why is Spain so much connected with it as they have huge history and culture! Public on bullfights are more tourists than Spanish people. Anyway, hope you had great time in your tourist visit to Spain!
    Cheers!!

    • Marija,
      There are scholarly articles on the subject of why people are “so much connected to it.” It’s the same reason why the US and other countries are “so much connected to” it-where “it” is watching animals fighting. BTW, did you see the horse in those pictures? That horse is also being abused. The last thing a horse wants to do is get in a ring to help fight a bull. That’s not what God made bulls or horses or men or women for.

      It has to do with a culture of violence. You can find most of these articles at Lexus Nexus -some libraries have this capability- or you may be able to find them online at googlescholar.com. Here is a link from a highly reputable org (hundreds of articles, just click on ‘articles’): http://www.latham.org/news.asp

  10. I’m spanish… I personally don’t like bullfighting, not for reasons of cruelty and things like that, I simply don’t find it entertaining, but I respect anyone who likes it and I think ti would be a shame to loose something so traditional and engraved in our culture. I only want to say congratulations, because the photos are beautiful and correct you two mistakes you’ve made…

    The scenario is not an stadium (stadiums are for sports) but a “plaza de toros” in Spanish or “bullring” in English. And sorry to disappoint you but you didn’t go to bullfighting, as in the photos I see it’s a “corrida de rejones”. As Santiago Rivera as said before me, “Rejones” doesn’t have a translation in English, but sometimes it’s called “mounted bullfighting” as it’s made with the bullfighter mounted in a pure breed horse throughout all the “corrida”. In real bullfighting the bullfighter is on his feet, and altough at some time a mounted man would go out and pinch de bull with some kind of spear, for the most part is made on foot.

  11. Feels like I was there myself. Magnificent Stadium. The crowd intense and bull fight exciting and full of suspense. Congrats.

  12. Sometimes I see on news some fascinating news like bull jumping up onto spectators stand by incredible coordination on a mini platform then another leap over the stand’s wall.

    So yeah, I think I will be at the front rows if I had the chance to watch bullfighting.

    Thanks for sharing the photos!

  13. I personallay don’t like the bullfight and can’t understand how people can LIKE this. I ACCEPT this as a kind of tradition of Spain, but this doesn’t mean that I have to support it. Living here in Spain since 3/4 year, I spoke to many Spaniards who like it, but also to other who don’t support it. But especially here in Sevilla, Andalusia, the people are still crazy about the bullfight…. I never attended and I will never attend a bullfight, but I have to admit that a guided visit in the muesum and the bullfighting arena was very interesting… Very beautiful pictures, btw! And congrats on being FP! Saludos de Sevilla

  14. Anonymous

    I personallay don’t like the bullfight and can’t understand how people can LIKE this. I ACCEPT this as a kind of tradition of Spain, but this doesn’t mean that I have to support it. Living here in Spain since 3/4 year, I spoke to many Spaniards who like it, but also to other who don’t support it. But especially here in Sevilla, Andalusia, the people are still crazy about the bullfight…. I never attended and I will never attend a bullfight, but I have to admit that a guided visit in the muesum and the bullfighting arena was very interesting… Very beautiful pictures, btw! And congrats on being FP! Saludos de Sevilla

  15. Anonymous

    Lovely Pics -especailly in B&W

    Think of it this way… you have the right to choose. Read the post or don’t… go to the bullfight or don’t. If you don’t agree then don’t go or read about it.
    I was in Spain a few years back and I had thought about going to the bull fights… I decided against it only because I am too sensitive and I was not sure how I would handle it. I had the choice! We don’t always agree with things that are not our own, but must keep an open mind since it is not our tradition, country or way of life. For people that live there it is a way of life they will have a totally different view. Stop and think about things we may do that could offend others… our way is not the only way. I guess I have travelled a lot and now live in a country very different than my own. This is my new reality and to remain sane and enjoy my time here I must accept the things around me and not judge or say “that is not the way I would do it, or my county would”. I look at it as an adventure and a chance to learn something about a totally new way of life… an amazing education and opportunity too few never have the chance to enjoy or experience. Soak it up, take it in… become a global citizen… try something new, maybe you’ll have the time of your life.

  16. great post great pics. Enjoyed reading your post

  17. Anonymous

    Well think of it this way… you have the right to choose. Read the post or don’t… go to the bullfight or don’t. If you don’t agree then don’t go or read about it.
    I was in Spain a few years back and I had thought about going to the bull fights… I decided against it only because I am too sensitive and I was not sure how I would handle it. I had the choice! We don’t always agree with things that are not our own, but must keep an open mind since it is not our tradition, country or way of life. For people that live there it is a way of life they will have a totally different view. Stop and think about things we may do that could affend others… our way is not the only way. I guess I have travelled a lot and now live in a country very differnt than my own. This is my new reality and to remain sane and enjoy my time here I must accept the things around me and not judge or say “that is not the way I would do it, or my county would”. I look at it as an adventure and a chance to learn something about a totally new way of life… an amazing education and opprtunity too few never have the chance to enjoy or experience. Soak it up, take it in… become a global citizen… try something new, maybe you’ll have the time of your life.

  18. Great Pics enjoyed reading your post. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  19. When I saw this post was about bull fighting I immediately thought of my 85 year old (recently deceased) father-in-law who was a Spaniard. He used to speak of bull fighting with such mixed emotion.

    He would speak about the beauty and the majesty of it all, and how every part of the fight represented something. He would speak of the beautiful choreographed “dance” of the matadors. He would tell stories of how the bulls were kept in fields and never in their life saw a man off a horse until they are in the ring, and he would speak about the great toreadors (we even have some of the 1950’s posters from the greats hanging in our living room)

    But then he would speak about the blood and the pain and suffering of the bull…….

    He was torn, but you could see he still honored the tradition.

    I think with the passing generations, bull fighting will be a thing of the past. Consider yourself lucky to have seen a dying “sport”.

  20. You did well.

    I have no idea how you tollerated being in that stadium with such dispicable people, and endured the horrific cruelty that played out in front of you.

  21. Jorge G. Pereira

    I’m Portuguese. The typical Bull fight using horses is here in Portugal. The typicall spanish bull fight uses horses only for the “rejoneo”.

  22. Good post. I’m spaniard and i invite to all the foreign people not to see this spectacle of blood and cruelty.
    A tradition ? Sure, and so they are the gladiators, but today it’s no necessary this kind of game.

  23. Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ is a great read for the background to bullfighting and insight into how the whole thing works. When he was young, he decided that he needed to observe death as closely as possible to be a good writer. Bullfighting was his answer and he ended up becoming obsessed with it. Bloody and cruel though the whole thing is, there is certainly a lot of art to it.

  24. idressesok

    very afraid

  25. I am very afraid of this sport.

  26. Great post. I live in Madrid, I see La Plaza de las Ventas 4 times a day and I understand perfectly the controversi of this sport (game, art…) and you did a great job.

    Not only in the way you explain it but also in the pictures. Congrat!!!!

  27. Anonymous

    Although i have been a vegetarian i found myself watching bullfighting on TV while on holiday in Menorca a few years ago. It was strangely fascinating to watch. What can I say?

    • Nishant

      Being vegetarian and enjoying abusive and cruel sports is unrelated, I would say. I mean, when animals are killed for food, the basic level of decency that is expected is that they be offered a painless death, and decent living conditions while they are alive.
      I would say that eating such meat is still more humane than supporting horrible sports (shouldn’t even be a sport) like bullfighting, where (read my comment below) torture and pain are the only thing I can see.

      • Anonymous

        People can choose to eat meat, but then they have to kill those animals properly, without causing them to much pain.
        Going to see a bull-, cock- or dog- fight may be called by some a travelling experience, but as long as people are going to be interested in those awful activities and even want to pay to see animals being bullied and slaughtered, this is going to exist.
        When people would not spend money on it and would show their dislike about cruelty, this would not be any more lucrative and they shall stop doing it.

  28. Nishant

    The bull is not an aggressive animal, and the reason he is angry and attempts to charge at the matador whilst in the bullring is mainly because he has been horrendously abused for the previous two days. In fact, what spectators see is not a normal, healthy bull, but a weakened, half-blinded and mentally destroyed version, whose chances of harming his tormentors is virtually nil. The bull has wet newspapers stuffed into his ears; vaseline is rubbed into his eyes to blur his vision; cotton is stuffed up his nostrils to cut off his respiration and a needle is stuck into his genitals. Also, a strong caustic solution is rubbed onto his legs which throws him off balance. This also keeps him from lying down on the ground. In addition to this, drugs are administered to pep him up or slow him down, and strong laxatives are added to his feed to further incapacitate him. He is kept in a dark box for a couple of days before he faces the ring: the purpose of this is to disorientate him. When he is let out of the box, he runs desperately towards the light at the end of the tunnel. He thinks that at last his suffering is over and he is being set free — instead, he runs into the bullring to face his killers and a jeering mob.

    • Nishant

      Besides, according to stats, 72% of Spaniards have no interest in bullfighting — only 8% of Spaniards consider themselves bullfighting fans.

      • Anonymous

        i´m spanish and this is false!!!! there are more people interesting in bullfighting than no interesting!!!!
        it´s an art!!!! you dont´n understand this!

  29. these photos are superb. adore this. thanks for another inspiring post. would love if you stopped by to see my latest outfit post and celebrity trend report. xoxo

    http://www.fashboulevard.blogspot.com

    Don’t forget to follow on twitter for all the latest celebrity fashion news from an LA stylist.

    http://twitter.com/#!/fashboulevard

  30. You said, in the beginning, that you are not agreeing with the concept of bullfighting. That’s not true. The second you paid for your entrance fee, you agreed that the fight should take place. At least have the courage to identify what you have done with accuracy. You watched an animal being tortured with curiosity. It’s called cruelty.

  31. Whatever one’s feelings on the ethics of bullfighting, these photos you posted are beautiful! I wish there were more of them. I think the choice to print them in black and white was spot-on!

    Santiago, the Spanish poster does an eloquent job of explaining the disjointed feelings most people experience on seeing a bullfight. Especially considering English is clearly his second language, I’m impressed; thanks Santiago!

    I’m in the middle of reading Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” which revolves around a holiday trip to see Spanish bullfighting, so this post was a delight. Thank you, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  32. Great photos! I’m going to live/study in Valladolid, Spain this July. I can’t wait to go. My friends and I are planning on spending a day or two in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls.

  33. Although I have my reserves on bull fighting the pictures of the stadium are amazing. I am a huge horse person, and whether or not I agree with it there is a lot of horsemanship and training that is to be respected. And it is a part of history. Hope your trip was great.

  34. This reminds of when I was at Plaza de Toros last summer, watching a bullfight, morbidly fascinated. I’m envious of your amazing travels-I hope to continue mine the same way soon. Good luck, keep having fun, and thanks for sharing!

  35. retirednavy

    Spain. The same country whose parliament considered passing a law giving full human rights to monkeys, apes, gorillas. This would have also banned the caging (incarceration) of these animals, a right not given to humans. Think about it: A gorilla is wandering down the street, gets angry at a child and kills the kid. So what do you do with the animal? Arrest it? It’s illegal to put it in jail so it wouldn’t even have a bond hearing. Try it and find it guilty of murder? Why? It not only cannot be sent to prison, it was only doing what comes naturally, so is it even guilty at all? Thankfully, the law was not approved.

    Gorillas have no “tradition” or cultural significance in Spain. Bulls and bullfighting do. Check it out. Discover the meaning and imagery represented. And, as had been stated before, remember that to vegans the “slaughtering” of any animal is cruel and “inhumane.” This includes fish.

    By the way, if you want to see the human in the fight get slaughtered (or at least feel like he has), watch American bull riding.

  36. Anonymous

    Personally don’t like the idea of bull-fighting — for all the obvious reason, but then, I’m not Spanish. Here in Canada we pay to see grown men torture themselves on ice, some may have huge objections to that, but it’s our culture, part of what makes us Canadaian.

    Loved your pictures — especially, the crowd scene.

    Congrats on being FP ‘d.

  37. Hi up! Nice pictures, I’m Spanish, from Madrid in fact and I’m one of those who consider this a piece of art and culture.

    It is all supposed to be an allegory of the love represented like a dance between the rough man (the bull) and the clever woman (the bullfighter or “Torero”), it’s more like theater rather than a cruelty non-sense show.

    I hope you find this interesting.

    Best regards from Madrid.

  38. v. good post hombre….
    Are they not illegalising the bull fighting now soon though?

  39. Congrats on being FP! Thanks for sharing this post – great from a cultural standpoint. When you travel it is about immersing yourself in the place, the people, the history, the culture. I think it would be neat to see the Running of the Bulls – just be on the outside looking in – not participating! Enjoy Your Travels & Adventures!

  40. I’ve never been to a bullfight myself, but the pictures are are quiet nice. 🙂

  41. Bull fighting always scares me 😦

  42. oldsalt1942

    Back in ’91 when the boat I was captain of was berthed at Puerto Banus a local family that had befriended us took us to a festival in the nearby town of San Pedro which included a bull fight. This was a far cry from the plazas of Madrid, Seville and Ronda. This Plaza del Toros was a portable ring set up in a field at the edge of town. Think small town midwest or southern summer carnival show and you’ve got a good idea of what it was like.
    The matadors were all local kids with visions of glory dancing in their heads as they faced sixth rate bulls. One only had a single horn. But it didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. Me, my girlfriend (who was French) and my Aussie engineer were about the only gringos in the crowd and the people were delighted to have us there and the wine skins were liberally passed around. It was one of the highlights of the nearly three years I spent in Europe.

  43. J Roycroft

    A good bull fight is the one when the bull sends his aggressor to his grave.

  44. I would like to travel to old Rome, where Christians are tossed into lion pits so the town can watch this as entertainment, oh, but that means I support what they would be doing. Maybe I shouldn’t attend this event after all because throwing Christians into lions den really is not that funny. However, it seems more fair to me because the lions aren’t abused and maimed like bulls are prior to “fighting”. Wow, that can’t be fun for the bull, with all those staffs sticking out their backs, and then when they are down, getting stabbed in the back of the neck in hopes that this will paralyzed the bull, and it can be dragged off scared and alone, just like many cows and calves go through at rodeos. I don’t care what the “culture” supports, if you are against bull fights, but support them by paying to go see one, where is the “against”? Here is some info: http://www.BullfightBloodbath.com “Bullfighting is the most indefensible type of animal abuse. Our footage shows in horrifying detail what happens at these events. Dare yourself to look at the following videos and slide shows. You will not be able to deny the cruelty and pointlessness of what you see here. Bullfighting is not a fight at all. It’s a systematic torture killing that pits a gang of armed thugs against a lone, frightened, and wounded animal.”

    • so you’re against it?

    • mysoulforsale

      There is no way that I could have said this better myself. Thanks for this thoughtful and well-worded comment.

      To those who are beating the “it’s their culture” drum, this has nothing to do with imposing “our” beliefs on “other” people. It has to do with human beings standing up to say that it’s not okay to hurt any sentient being, regardless of whether or not that being was fortunate enough to be born with the rights afforded to us… that we anointed ourselves with by the way.

      When a dictator torments his people, we go to war to protect them (sometimes). I only wish that we felt the same outrage when those being persecuted are the voiceless.

  45. These pictures are great. I almost went to a bullfight in Madrid a few weeks ago but ran out of time in the end; I was half-disappointed, half-relieved!

  46. The pictures are amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  47. jerrychicken

    I like the honesty of the respondents here, many appreciate the bullfight as an ancient tradition and spectacle but hesitate to support it – that’s fine and how it should be, public opinion led to the banning of fox hunting in England and that too is fine and how it should be, we do not have the right to insist that other cultures should follow our lead and if we do, then as another comment has it, we will all be living in some plastic Disneyland too soon.

  48. thor27

    Nice blog I like it. Come visit mine sometime.

  49. Thanks great pictures. Bullfighting is a part of Spain, I live here in Andalusia and thus have seen several, not being the biggest fan I still believe one absolutely has to respect the different traditions of other cultures. If our society keeps developing at this rate and direction we will all live in Disneyland soon enough. The extremely opposed non vegetarians should please remember that the meat we eat does not originate in the freezer section of our supermarkets either ………. and these Bulls have a great live roaming on their finca for 4 to 6 years prior to making their “last stand”
    I do not recommend it for young children and sensible viewers

    • loveandalucia,
      Can you see your Freudian slip? (Sabes lo que es un Freudian slip?)

      You said, “I do not recommend it for young children and sensible viewers.” Did you mean sensitive viewers? Because your Fredian slip is right on the nose.

  50. Great photos. I hope to be ring side to see this controversial event one day. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  51. The pics are great- even though I would never ever support bullfighting by going to an actual fight. It is outdated and cruel- an acient relic that should be abolished We had bear baiting in the UK in the middle ages – that has been banned- same thing! Move on with the times Spain!

  52. I remember going to a bull fight when I was in Spain over 10 years ago…I was torn but it is so facsinating. Unfortunately I lost all of my photos from that trip, I guess I will need to take another trip. Congrats on being FP 🙂

  53. I feel like I’m there! The scenery is simply stunning, but I might give the actual bull fight a miss and have a quiet glass of wine somwehere. Thanks so much for sharing:)

  54. La Tomatina – yes. Bull Fights – No Go! Your pics are well taken. I wrote a lil post about Bull Fights before : http://wolke205.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/mein-bild-des-jahres-pic-of-the-year-2010/

    Greets

  55. This is “rejoneo”, not “novillada” or “corrida” as last one is what you know as bull fighting out there. Rejoneador is the man or woman who mounts a pure blood super expensive horse, although the “faena,” the art of fighting aginst the bull, follows the same structure over time as the other two arts: three parts, being the last one the dead of the bull. Later, meat will be sold on groceries near the plaza.

    If this is art or this is a cruel spectacle many people here in Spain are asking ourselves about. Three o four centuries of bullfighting. Seeing José Tomás, a mistic “torero”, transports you to other dimension of art, of plastic images…. I’m not a fan of bullfighting, usually I can’t find the art it proclaims, but certain toreros, certain “ganaderías” (the enterpises who breeds bulls at the conutryside and cares on the qualtity of the bulls they send to the plaza, every one with their own seal) , have the capabilitie to weak up on you feelings you cant’ imagine you own. It’s difficult to say.

    I’m spanish.

  56. Must be great to witness firsthand (although I probably wouldn’t be able to look!!).
    The photo’s look great in black & white xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  57. It does look like an exciting experience, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I’ve only traveled to Barcelona and I’ve never been able to witness bull fighting in person.

    Thanks for the amazing photos.

  58. i’m going to spain in a few weeks- this makes me even more excited! please check out my blog http://laurenandpierre.blogspot and follow me back if youd like to stay in contact!

  59. Yes Spain always reminds me of corrida de toros (bullfights) and tomatina (tomato festival):) Nice pictures

  60. I had to study this topic for my Humanities test and think it is a fascinating subject.

    There are obviously mix reviews because of the cruelty to animals aspect, however at one event, 19 and a half thousand were in attendance which shows its popularity. If I can remember, 75% of the Spanish population were actually not interested, however people still enjoy it. Also, bull fighting is seen as an event that brings the 4 quarters of Spain together and unites them.

    I would love to elaborate, but will keep it short to not take that much space.

    By the way, here is a link to my latest post, it’s satirical and humorous and I would love your thoughts and opinions

    http://muzzydaudonsports.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/the-phrases-of-the-young/

    Thanks

  61. Anonymous

    I went to a bullfight when I was in Madrid. I was split on the ethics of it, but it was great to experience it firsthand. I was traveling alone and spent much of the time talking to one of the ushers, who filled me in on the history. I never need to do it again, but I’m glad I did it that one time. . . .

    And yes, your photos are lovely!

  62. I can’t imagine actually witnessing this — but I was glad to share the experience through your post.

    🙂

    Mikalee

  63. Beautiful photos…

    I’m always torn over bull fighting — so ingrained in the Spanish culture and so important to so many people, yet undoubtedly cruel to both the bulls and horses… My moral compass doesn’t know which way to point.

  64. Nice pics, but I think I’ll pass on the bullfighting. However, some say our circuses, zoos and rodeos are cruel, so who’s to say?

  65. Ria

    Looks like an interesting experience. But the photos are lovely.

  66. VERY COOL! I’ve always wanted to go to a bull fight!

    xx

    http://www.trufflesnruffles.com/

  67. Fantastic pictures that you DID post! I was really torn on whether or not I wanted to see one while we were in Madrid. I think I will one day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s