Bullfighting  or corrida has existed in some way or another since ancient times in Spain where it origins can be traced back to 711 A.D.   For the most part outsiders think of a corrida in terms of death, blood and cruelty while locals or aficionados see grace, courage and beauty, admirers such as Hemingway, Picasso, Goya and others considered it an art.


I must admit I have never attended a corrida but my parents and brother attended many of them and thoroughly enjoyed them, I am not sure they would admit to it now that more and more people are against them.  Presently there are a number of groups lobbying against this art in the European Union and in 2004 Barcelona actually declared itself an anti-bullfighting city.  Even so the tradition runs deep as even the king of Spain was heard saying that the day the European Union bans bullfights is the day Spain leaves the European Union.  Whether you agree with the sport or not bullfighting is ingrained in the Spanish culture and as such is worth knowing a little bit about it. 

The Basics

  • Season runs from mid-March to mid-October during this time bullfights take place every Sunday as well as during the week on special occasions such as the fiestas de Madrid, San Isidro, Dos de Mayo y La Paloma.

  • Tickets can be purchased at the bullring box and prices start at around 20.00 Euros

  • The start of a bull fight is determined by the hours of sunlight, and is confirmed by the Plaza some weeks before each festivity. Normally, corridas begin at 17:00 in March, gradually starting later, up until 19:00 in August, and commencing around 17:30 in the autumn.

  • The best seats are those in the shaded section (sombra), then in sun-shade (sol y sombra), and finally, in the sun (sol). Within each section the best seats are those closest to the arena (front row/barreras).

  • Corridas typically last 1 ½ hours to 2 ½ hours

Autopsy of a Corrida

The corrida is divided into three stages or tercios and it is common for three toreadores to fight two bulls each.

1st Stage or Tercio de Varas –  when the bullfighter faces the bull for the first time.  The bull is released and the picadores (lancers on horseback) encourage the bull to attack in order to weaken the bull, they use lances to pierce the bull’s back neck muscles.  Meanwhile the matador, distinguished by their spectacular traje de luces or suit of lights, makes beautiful and different passes with el capote, magenta and gold, to test the ferocity of the bull.

2nd Stage or Tercio de Vanderillas – three banderilleros on foot attempt to plant barbed sticks into the bull’s neck and shoulders, instead of using capes banderilleros use their bodies to attract the bull and meet the bull head performing very brave passes.

3rd stage or Tercio de Momento Supremo – at this stage the matador re enters the ring with the red cape or muleta and makes a series of passes to attempt to maneuver the bull into positition for the final faena the most exciting and dangerous moment of the show the bull’s death. 

  Bullfighting Matardor

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