Today in History, a regular feature in the Seattle Times, began Tuesday with:
“1947: Legendary bull fighter Manolete died after being gored during a fight in Linares, Spain; he was 30.”
Bullfighting, ‘la fiesta brava’ ; the centuries old cultural icon of Spain is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ topics these days among tourists and locals alike. But still it is interesting that 65 years later, the death of Spain’s famed young matador, Manuel Laureano Rodrigues Sanchez, -- better known as Manolete* – is still worthy of note on an international scale.
Although we spent several weeks in Spain last year, we didn’t attend a bullfight; not as a political statement, but out of a desire not to watch an animal – or perhaps human - be killed.
But that isn’t to say we weren’t fascinated by the importance of the bullfight to this country’s culture and history. After all, the first recorded bullfight in Spain was in 711 AD at the crowning of King Alfonso VIII.
Our stay in Madrid was during its May Fiesta de San Isidro. A highlight of the many celebrations the fiesta encompasses are the bullfights in its Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas – one of the largest bullfight rings in the world.
Bullfights, or corridas, take place almost daily during the festival and many were televised for the enjoyment of the masses, much like football and baseball games in the United States and soccer (futbol) in Europe.
(Look closely at the two photos above and you’ll see I photographed a television screen.)
I photographed this sign in Madrid promoting toreras (female bullfighters) because I thought it was something new. Silly me, they’ve been around for centuries -- yes, centuries -- I’ve since learned. Even the famed Manolete shared billing with a female during a 1930’s bullfight according to one internet account.
In Seville we joined a tour group visit of the famed Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza (Paseo de Cristobal Colon 12, www.realmaestranza.com) Tickets for the tours can be purchased at the box office there.
This 14,000 seat edifice is one of the largest in Spain and hosts fights every Sunday from Easter Sunday to early October.
Our multi-lingual tour guide explained the history and the procedural aspects of bullfighting to the handful of people on the tour. The tour concluded with a stop in the on-site bullfighting museum.
The museum is a walk through the corridos history– walls filled with paintings, sculptures as pictured above, the outfits and equipment worn by some of the more famous bull fighters as well as a tribute to the more famous bulls as well.
We spotted one of the most clever pieces of street art we’ve seen on our travels while in Madrid. It seemed the perfect photo to end this Travel Photo Thursday post:
A couple of notes about bullfighting in Spain:
Barcelona’s leaders voted to end that city’s 600 year tradition of bullfights; its last bullfight was held in September 2011. The first recorded bullfight there was in 1387.
*Manolete, was considered by some to be Spain’s greatest bullfighter. A book by Barnaby Conrad, “The Death of Manolete” has just been republished. Conrad also produced a You Tube video called The Day Manolete Was Killed.
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This is a great post on Spain as most people associate it with bull fighting and it does have a huge tradition of bull fighting. We were in Barcelona a few months ago and they have banned it there. They have done so before but it always started up again. This time it is for keeps - evidently! I like your photo of the ring in Sevilla. Where did you take that from?ReplyDelete
I took the photo of the bullfight ring from the tower at the Cathedral. We walked to the top by the bells. I zoomed in a bit to get a better view of the ring and this photo was the result. Thanks for visiting!Delete
I loved the architecture of the Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas in Madrid. We couldn't go to the bullfight having young kids with us but that tour in Seville would have been perfectly fine for kids. That Seville ring is just beautiful! I didn't know there were female bullfighters either. Love the cow picture!ReplyDelete
Mary, the kids would have loved the tour! The museum is also interesting and very kid friendly. . .thanks for stopping by today.Delete
This is an interesting post of bullfighting in Spain. I hadn't realised that Barcelona had banned bullfighting..I wonder if any other Spanish cities will follow. I also find the history and architecture fascinating but have no desire to see a bull fight.ReplyDelete
I didn't know it either until a friend from England not long ago commented about "Spain banning bullfights" and we said they were alive and well in Andalucia. He had been in Barcelona. I did a quick check of the Internet (what did we do without it?) and found that indeed Barcelona's last fight was last year.Delete
Here in Arles, bull-fighting is also an important part of the Camarguaise culture. Remi and I went once. Just as when we have met other cultures with surprising or controversial traditions, we felt it was important to go with an open mind as possible. Neither of us feel the need to ever go back.ReplyDelete
We actually will be heading out of town soon as it is time for the Feria de Riz, the bullfights that close the season. There are up to half a million visitors that come for the Ferias in Arles and the town is transformed into Party Central. Something about all of that spilt blood gets everyone worked up until they drink it down. I have written about it a few times chez moi. As we live in the heart of town, we now know that the best thing to do is just to leave!
I will have to go back and read some of your earlier posts Heather. I don't normally associate bullfighting and France. I can't imagine Arles with that many people but can certainly see why you chose to leave when 'Party Central' opens the doors!Delete
I'd go to a bullfight - not to see the bull but the people in the stands. I can certainly do without seeing a bull be killed. It's like the Calgary Stampede a bit - there are parts that are fascinating but it's the harm to animals that bothers most of us. I learned a few things from this post and I too love your last photo.ReplyDelete
Actually we thought about going to a bullfight during Madrid's festival, but they are so extremely popular that several of the locals told us it would be virtually impossible to get any. It does play such a role in history that we may yet someday convince ourselves to do so.Delete
When we were in Barcelona, we visited the stadium just to see what it looked it- the size and space was crazy! I also like that they have now stopped doing it though, the animal lover in me just couldn't stomach the whole thing.ReplyDelete
I hear you! We've not seen the stadium in Barcelona though; it would be interesting. I hope they are doing tours there as they were in Seville.Delete
like you, I don't think I would ever want to attend a bullfight. Seeing bulls, or humans for that matter, being killed is not my definition of fun. Indeed though, it is an important part of Spanish history…kind of like I feel about the run of the bulls in Pamplona, although I think that one event is even worse. But I digress...ReplyDelete
good overview and photos!
- Maria Alexandra
I love the idea of bullfights but like you, I wouldn't go to a real one. I think I'd be too affected if I saw the bull being gored :(ReplyDelete
I am not sure I could take it. I whirled away from the television screen after that second photo above - I didn't want to see the end.Delete
I went to a bull fight in Barcelona many years ago (I was 19). I don't think I would do it again. I saw the bull fighting ring in Seville, but from a distance. Actually, I was up in the Giralda tower. When I go back to Seville I will definitely take a tour. I probably would not go to a bull fight.ReplyDelete
That is fascinating - I have had friends who have watched bull fighting with mixed emotions - I enjoyed learning more about it today! Hope you will link it up on Friday Daydreamin too!ReplyDelete
Would love to visit the stadium but would never be able to watch a bullfight. We visited Arles three years ago and I was actually quite surprised to learn that bullfighting was a tradition there as well. Love that last photo!!ReplyDelete
I didn't realize Arles had bullfighting either until Heather wrote about it in the comment above.Delete
I also think that the bullfighting culture of Spain is fascinating. I think I would go to a bullfight to say I had the experience -- but probably only once. I didn't know about the female bullfighters. Very interesting.ReplyDelete
The old phrase, "Once is enough. . ." comes to mind when I think about bullfights alright. Thanks for visiting Cathy!Delete
Very interesting post. Bullfighting seems like such a catch-22 for a visitor: experience one of the country's most steeped traditions or avoid due to the violence against animals? I'm not sure what I would choose (on the one trip I made to Spain, it wasn't even a consideration). But if the cities themselves are cancelling their centuries-old events, that says something.ReplyDelete
Catch-22 describes it very well I think. It's a could, should, would experience of which I appreciate its long history but just am not sure I would want to witness it firsthand. Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Weird - I know I commented on this post yesterday but don't see it here?? Oh well, at least you know I was here!! :))) And back again to thank you for linking up!!! Have a super weekend!ReplyDelete
This is weird because I think I even replied to your earlier comment and now there's no sign of either. Sorry about whatever erased us. Thanks for commenting and letting me be a part of your Friday Day Dreamin' as well.Delete
I'd love to see a bullfight, not so much for the actual fight -- but for the bullfighter's costumes. They are absolutely beautiful!ReplyDelete
One of my teachers in high school told us about Manolete -- I think he'd said Garcia Lorca wrote a poem in his honor.
That would make sense because Lorca thought the duende was found in the performance arts -- including bullfighting. I'll have to see if I can find that poem! You do have a point about the costumes as well - they are stunning.Delete
It would make sense as Lorca thought duende affected those in the performing arts and he included bull fighting in that category I guess. I too love those costumes, they are as striking as the dress of the Flamenco dancers.Delete
Difficult when old traditions conflict with modern ideas. But really, nothing justifies cruelty to animals. In Britain, they've banned fox hunting, but still keep the tradition alive with artificial trails. Perhaps Spain could find a similar solution.ReplyDelete
Seville is special!!!ReplyDelete