Madrid Bullfighting

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Things to do


Date of travel

May, 2015

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Having visited bullrings in Malaga and Seville, I decided to visit an actual bullfight in Madrid at the “Plaza de Toros”: I know it’s a contentious subject but, having been brought up in the country with shooting and hunting, my views were probably more open than others.

Whilst tickets are usually expensive and sold out months beforehand, our concierge told us we would be able to get reasonably priced tickets on the day as it was the Novilladas sin Picadores i.e. younger bullfighters who haven’t reached the status of Matador, with bulls less than 4 years old. He also suggested that although the event didn’t start until 7pm, we should get tickets for the shade (more expensive). This was a wise move as only a few brave people sat in the sun in what were still temperatures of 30 degrees in July.

We got to Ventas (the nearest metro station) which brought us straight up next to the bull ring and after fending off a couple of what I suspected were agents selling tickets with a commission, we went to the official ticket booth where we had a choice of seats and prices. We chose medium priced tickets at €25. The façade of the ring is absolutely stunning.

We’d been told we could take our own food and drink into the event but weren’t sure whether this included alcohol so at a nearby supermarket we stocked up on water and nibbles.

When we got in, our first task was to purchase a cushion at a reasonable €1.20 each and then a couple of cervazas at an exorbitant €5 each, although it was a large glass. In the event, stewards came round selling more reasonably priced drinks from cool boxes.

We found our seats and for the whole event were not surrounded on ether side or behind or in front of us which was helpful as even with cushions the concrete seats were hard and we fidgeted lots. It was not for the faint-hearted as the rows were steep with small narrow steps and there was nothing to hold on to.

The event started promptly at 7pm with a big parade and music by two bands which continued through the event. Once the action started, it was sometimes difficult to follow exactly what was going on. Although, after seeing nine individual fights, we started to get the gist of things. Afterwards we saw a good “article”: on what happens which would have been helpful to read beforehand. However, even this still did not tell us why one bull was saved – a man led a group of cows with bells round their necks which tempted the bull out. The vividly-coloured, bejeweled costumed and capes were spectacular and there was great theatre to the performance.

Despite the goriness of the event, it was hard not to smile when a Matador had to run and jump over the fence to escape and it was amusing to see how having taunted the bull, the banderilleros ran away and hid behind a fence panel.

The fighting was over by 10pm but disappointingly there was no finale to equal the stunning opening ceremony.

Whilst I wouldn’t go to another fight, I’m pleased we went as at least I now have a more informed opinion. What’s your view?

Helen Jackson

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