Watching flamenco, drinking sangria, eating tapas and watching bullfight are the items in the majority of travelers' “must do” list when they come to Spain.
No matter whether you love it or hate it, bullfighting is an integral part of Spanish culture. It is at the same time the most controversial and the most popular Spanish tradition which is among top 10 things to do in Madrid.
At the very beginning of its existence, bullfighting was considered to be a sport for aristocracy. Later it was understood as a cruel example and aristocracy was prohibited to take part in it. But the art of bullfighting, as we can see it now, goes back to the end of the eighteenth century.
The performance begins with the appearance of the bull. The matador’s assistant waves a bright cape in front of the animal. The task of the matador is to watch it carefully in order to get the bull’s mood. The next step is to put spears into the bull’s back. It is the task of Picadors. When it is done, the Matador takes off his black hat and the fight is about to start.
The interaction between the Matador and the bull is called faena – which means a dance with death. In his left hand Matador holds a bright cloth called muelta and in the right hand – a sword. The fight continuous till the Matador proves he is superior and afterwords public rewards him. Waving white handkerchiefs, the audience shows that the Matador shall be rewarded with the trophies. Among the trophies are bull’s ears, the tail and the hoof. But the waving continuous, encouraging the Matador to throw his trophies into the audience. The crowd then starts throwing flowers to the ring.
There are two places in Madrid to watch bullfighting – Plaza de Torros de Las Ventas and Vista Alegre. Plaza de Torros de Las Ventas is the most important one and hosts more bullfights. Its capacity is 20 000 people. The bullfighting season begins in March and ends in October. During some festivals bullfights can be held every day.
Near the arena there is a museum dedicated to the history of bullfighting where you may find out a lot about how bullfighting was originated. You will also have an opportunity to see the costumes of matadors. In front of Plaza de Torros de Las Ventas there is a memorial to the victims of bullfight. Plaza de Torros de Las Ventas hosted not only numerous bullfight but also concerts of such legendary bands as Australian hard rock band AC/DC, Coldplay and Radiohead. Coming to Madrid without visiting this arena you lose the chance to experience the one of the most exciting places this city has.
Even though bullfighting is constantly criticized by animal rights activists, it is still a very big part of Spanish culture.