Video:Tips on Viewing a Bullfight in Madridwith Shana Ting Lipton
Bullfighting is a really popular part of Spanish culture that's been documented in countless places. This video has a number of tips on viewing bullfights when visiting Madrid.See Transcript
Transcript:Tips on Viewing a Bullfight in Madrid
Hi, I'm Shana Ting Lipton here for About.com. Today I'm going to give you some history and information on bullfighting in Madrid. Although the artful but violent spectacle has existed for over a millennium, today it's a contentious subject in parts of Spain. Along with Seville, Madrid is in fact one of the places where bullfighting remains popular. And it's one of the best places to see a bullfight.
History of Bullfighting
The sport goes back centuries in its modern form, and its roots and early influences go even further back to the Moors in the 11th century and the forum spectacles of ancient Rome. But the exact origins of bullfighting are lost in the sands of time. The modern bullfight that we know with the matador on foot (not horseback) has clearer origins. Francisco Romero is said to have introduced the practice around 1726.
Bullfighting in Madrid
Flash forward 200 years. In 1929, in the Salamanca district, Madrid was establishing itself as an important bullfighting centre with the opening of its famous Las Ventas ring--the largest possibly most important bullring in Spain. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Madrid tends to draw real aficionados of the sport rather than tourists. The city is also home to the Vista Alegre ring, which is used more as a sports and concert venue than a bullring these days.
Getting Tickets for Madrid Bullfights
Bullfights in Madrid take place between mid-May (during the San Ysidro Festival) and October. Fights don't usually take place during the months of July and August. It's easy to buy tickets online in advance. However, the fights don't usually sell out, so you can generally manage to buy tickets at the bull ring. The one exception when advance purchase is recommended is during the San Ysidro Festival, which is when some of the top matadors fight, drawing big crowds. Seats are priced based on how sunny or shady they are. You probably won't nab the royal box but it's not a bad idea to splurge and get a pricier seat in full shade as you'll find it easier to take photos and have a more comfortable experience.
What to Expect in a Bullfight
A bullfight consists of 3 acts. Act I: The matador's assistants provoke the bull. Then, the picadors come in on horseback to pierce the bull's neck with a lance. Act II: The bullfighter, with the support of his assistants, incites the bull's rage with small attacks, ultimately poking sticks in its shoulders. Act III: In the final act, the matador must slay the bull in ten minutes or less. He uses hypnotic cape movements and then spears the bull with his sword. Be aware that if you do get close seats, you'll be face to face with the action, blood and all--and this can be a lot for some people to take. Famous bullfighting enthusiast Ernest Hemingway once said "Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death."
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