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Madrid Bulfighting


Bullfighting, that oh-so typical and controversial Spanish tradition, is still alive and well in Madrid. If you want to see the ritual of tauromachy, there's no better place than Madrid's bullring, Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, and no better time than the San Isidro festival in May.

A corrida (the bullfight) consists of 6 fifteen minute sections known as faenas. In each faena a bull (toro) is faced by one of three matadors (though on special occasions there may only be one matador present). Matadors (or toreros), the ones who actually kill the bull, are dressed in gold, while their subordinates are in silver or black dress.

Each faena is divided into three sections.

In the first section, the bull's strength is tested by the matador and his assistants, who at this point are using large magenta and yellow capes.
The bull is then weakened by picadors on horseback who lance the bull in the back of the neck. In addition to weakening the bull, this forces it to drop its head to the level of the bullfighters' capes.

During the second section, the banderilleros stab long brightly-coloured barbed sticks, the banderillas, into the back of the oncoming bull. The banderilleras are designed to remain in the bull's back for the duration of the bullfight, and are meant to aggravate it.

In the final section, the matador faces the bull alone. Now using a small red cape, he carries out a series of elegant manoeuvres designed to demonstrate his bravery and skill. When he is ready to kill the bull, he exchanges the long straight sword he has been using to position his cape for a smaller one with a curved end. To carry out the kill, the matador holds his cape in such a way as to mimic the angle formed by the head of a charging bull. As the bull charges in response, it exposes the vital area between the shoulder blades where the matador must insert his sword to reach the bull's heart. In a good bullfight, this is successfully accomplished in the first attempt, but usually several attempts are required to subdue the bull.

When to see a bullfight in Madrid

Bullfighting season in Madrid runs from the beginning of March to the end of October. Bullfights are held every Sunday during this period, as well as other days of the week during important Madrid festivals like San Isidro, Dos de Mayo and La Paloma. The Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas also opens on select Fridays in July and August at discount prices.

Where to see a bullfight in Madrid

There is one grand bullring in Madrid's city center: Plaza de las Ventas. The region also holds a number of nearby bullrings of lesser importance in Aranjuez, Colemnar Viejo, Chinchón, Getafe, Leganés and the Sierra de Guadarrama. These towns celebrate their typical fiestas at the end of August or beginning of September, a great opportunity to see bullfighting in an intimate setting and get crazy with Madrid locals.

The Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, built in 1932 and admired for its "mozárabe" style, can hold almost 25,000 spectators. Las Ventas is Spain's most important bullring and an essential stop for any aficionado.

While at Las Ventas, you can also visit the Museo Taurino
, a museum dedicated to all things "toro": paraphernalia, paintings, sculptures, dress and more. The museum is open during bullfighting season (March - October), Tues-Fri from 9:30am-2:30pm and Sundays & festival days from 10am-1pm. Out of season (November - February) hours are Mon-Fri, 9:30am-2:30pm.
Plaza de Toros de las Ventas
c/ Alcalá 237
Metro stops: Las Ventas (line 2 or 5)
Bus lines: 12, 21, 38, 53, 106, 110, 146
Neighborhood: Salamanca

How to get tickets for a bullfight in Madrid

Tickets to see a bullfight in Las Ventas range from 2€ to 115€. Sections 1, 9 & 10 are the most sought-after and expensive but you can still get cheap seats high up from this vantage point.

Box office hours: Fridays from 10am-2pm & 5pm-8pm
Phone payment by credit card: +34 902 15 00 25

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