Plaza de Toros Las Ventas is the third largest bullfighting ring in the entire world, and its right here in Madrid! Bullfighting is a traditional Spanish art in which an individual, typically a man, with a sword and a cape tries to attract a bull as close to his body as he can (by movement of the cape), without allowing the bull to hurt him. Crowds of people watch on anxiously as the man stares death straight in the eyes. At the end, the man kills the bull, and the crowd judges how artful and beautiful they deem the performance. If the man performed well, he will be given the ears and tail of the bull as a trophy. Many foreigners to Spain, and those unfamiliar with the tradition of bullfighting, may wonder what’s the meaning behind this tradition? Bullfighting can be a touchy subject for many, as some people find bullfighting to be an inhumane way to treat an animal. I decided to take an interactive tour of Las Ventas, to find out for myself what this Spanish tradition is all about.
Las Ventas is an almost 100 year old bullring located in the heart of Madrid. Truly, it is one of the greatest monuments of the capital, patrimonially protected due to its architectural beauty. Nobody who visits Madrid can leave without getting to know Las Ventas and admiring its “neo-Mudejar” style, inspired by the orientalist style, with bricks in geometric shapes, tiles and beautiful arcades. The tour starts at the Puerta Grande and there, precisely, some notions of the architectural importance of the building are given. Secondly, another point that is attended throughout the route, with some very attractive audiovisual content, is the ecological importance of bull breeding in Spain: thanks to the bull, in Spain more than half a million hectares of a unique ecosystem are conserved in the world, such as the Iberian meadow.
The tour also addresses a human and liturgical side, trying to make the visitor imagine what a bullfighter feels before facing his own destiny in the most important arena of the world. To do this, the visitor goes through the alley, the ring, the infirmary door and even, the chapel, where the “matadores” pray minutes before making the “paseíllo”. Finally, in the Bullfighting Museum, the visitor can admire the “vestidos de luces”, hand embroidered in gold and silver, authentic pieces of craftsmanship. This museum offers its visitants an attractive rout throughout bullfighting history, showing its relevance in Spain´s history and culture. Among other pieces of artistic value, is exposed the complete series of the second edition of prints of “La Tauromaquia” by Francisco de Goya, imprinted in etching. Because of the visit aiming to become an experience for the five senses, several fun virtual reality games have been launched through a simulator that allows visitors to bullfight a bull with the “muleta”, or participate in a San Fermín bullfight between bulls and runners.
When you travel to a foreign country, you have to keep in mind they may have traditions that are different from what you’re used to. Before attending the tour, I was a little wary of this tradition. My tour guide explained to me that there are many positive aspects of bullfighting. For example, the bulls that are used for bullfighting are given a life much longer than others that are killed for their meat. These bulls receive nothing but the best food, treatment, and lands, often being given dozens of acres of land just for themselves. This land is also protected under Spanish law, so no commercialized companies can buy this land and urbanize it. In this way, the bulls are good for the ecology of Spain. After the bullfight, all the meat from the bulls is processed and sold, so no part of the bull goes to waste. Taking this tour showed me that there are many more aspects of bullfighting than it seems. Additionally, the bullfighter will not be considered a good fighter if he does not kill the bull at the first and most humane chance he gets. The bullfighter must follow a specific method while fighting. The methods he used should be artful and purposeful.
Spanish people are not attending bullfights to watch a bullfighter hurt an animal. Rather, they are going to appreciate a 200 year old tradition, that they consider to be art. If you want to learn more about bullfighting, then I highly recommend going on a tour of Plaza de Toros Las Ventas. You’ll certainly come away with a greater understanding of a tradition you may have once found confusing. To learn more about Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, check out their official website, here.
Pick up the discount vouchers at the Citylife Office and save money on your next Las Ventas Tour!
By showing your City Card you will save an additional 10%! Have fun!