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BULLFIGHTING

Bullfighting is an important part of Spanish culture and is presently enjoying a great increase in popularity in Spain. Its origins are reputed as ancient, but the earliest recorded dates back to 711 AD when a bullfight (Corrida) took place in honour of the crowning of King Alfonso VIII. All over Spain each week thousands of Spaniards flock to their nearest Bullring and it has been estimated that over 24.00 bulls are killed each year in front of an enthusiastic audience of over 30 million spectators. The Spanish tend to look on bullfighting as a "ritual without religion". It should be noted that there is today in the Bullring a growing number of female Matadors. However, not all Spanish people agree with this sport or the manner in which it is conducted.

The bullfighting season is from March to October each year. The records show that in the initial past the performance was basically completed only on horseback and was reserved for selected members of Spanish aristocracy. When Felipe V became King he prohibited the nobles from taking part as it is said that he considered it created a bad image in front of the ordinary people. The commoners continued practicing the sport but started to tease the bulls by stabbing small spears into the bull. Thus, the origin of the banderillas as seen used in today’s bullfights. The present version of bullfighting was first introduced by Francisco Roméro in Ronda at the beginning of the 19th Century.

The Bullfight commences with a ceremonious entry of the Cuadrillas and the Alguacile. It is the custom for three teams each to fight two bulls. After the ceremonial parade the sport commences with the entry of the chosen bull and this is then teased by the Cuadrillas and the Matador joins in with his cape to test the qualities of the bull. The mounted Picadors are next to enter and weaken the bull in the neck with their picas and join those on foot whom plant their bandillas. When the time is right and the bull's head is sufficiently bowed the Matador takes centre stage. Using proud sweeps of the cape coupled with the expected artistic use of the body the crowd is duly entertained. Finally the Matador must stab swiftly and cleanly the heart of the bull to cause immediate death. Unfortunately, this end result is not always perfectively achieved and the Matador can quickly suffer the displeasure of the spectators by being booed. A good performance receives the ultimate acclaim of the bull's ears and tail.

The Matador has to initially examine and study the movements to judge the strength of the bull. A serious wrong move and they are likely to be seriously gored and tossed, perhaps with lose of life. For the spectators the combined quality of this judgment with the required dramatic movements will determine that much sought after applause. A truly outstanding performance will mean that the Matador will be carried around the arena.

Another very popular event in selected towns in Spain is when the bulls are driven down a series of streets and the local enthusiasts, often including some over-ambitious tourists, attempt to proof their valour by challenging the oncoming bulls by standing in their path to the very last moment. It is for the spectators to decide whether these young men are being brave or just rather "chancing their luck". The most well known location for this street bull-running is the town of Pamplona.

BULLFIGHTING - Glossary

Alguacilas - Officials in charge of the event
Banderillas - Barbed darts with coloured shafts placed into the neck of the bull
Bandilleros - Picadors on foot
Barreras -Front seats
Capote - The red cape used by the bullfighter that swirls to the movements
Corrida - A Bullfighting event
Cuadrillas - A team taking part in the event
Gradas - The least expensive seats around the top and back of the Arena
Muleta - The sword used by the bullfighter to kill the bull
Matador - A Bullfighter
Novilladas - The less experienced younger Bullfighters whom take part in the event
Paseillo - The opening parade of the participants
Picador – The mounted men or on foot whose work is to weaken the bull
Pica - A sharp lance used in weakening the bull in the neck
Plaza de Toros - The Bullring
Puerta Grande - The main entrance door to the arena
Puntilla - The dagger used to stab the base of the bull's skull
Rejoneadores - Experienced Horse-mounted Bullfighters
Sol – Seats around the Arena indicating exposed to the sun
Sombra - Seats around the Arena that enjoy the shade
Toril - The enclosure for the bulls

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