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The picadores leave the arena to be replaced by two banderilleros , or lancemen. Each is armed with a pair of banderillas , or small spikes covered with colorful strips of paper, which serve to both distract and further injure the bull. The torero usually does not participate as fully in this stage, often opting to observe from the sidelines. Alone in the ring, the torero faces the bull one-on-one, this time wielding a smaller red cape known as a muleta.

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After getting the bull riled up with a series of muleta -waving passes known as tandas , the torero swaps out a ceremonial sword with the killing one. After the ring is cleared by a team of mules dragging the dead bull out of the arena, the next-senior torero takes a turn, and the whole event begins again with the tercio de varas. This is something that many tourists are unaware of before familiarizing themselves with bullfighting.

But due to its prevalence in literature and media, many visitors consider it an essential Spanish experience, when the truth is that Madrid—and Spain as a whole—has so much more to offer. Defenders of bullfighting have said that the relatively luxurious life of the bulls before their day in the ring makes up for their death, or that after having survived for thousands of years, bullfighting is an important part of Spanish culture that should be preserved.

Bullfighting History

What matters most is that you ask yourself whether or not this experience aligns with your values, and make your decision accordingly. And if you do choose to go, ensuring that your choice is an informed one is key. Only time will tell whether future generations hold onto it as a passionate tradition, or cast it aside in favor of cruelty-free activities.

American Freestyle Bullfighting - 2019 Express Ranches Invitational Highlights

Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In , this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano , reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco not all at once. Follow her blog, Viatic Couture , for more.

Great Post , told the facts and now make up your own mind to go or not.


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One of the most lasting elements of the bullfighting tradition is the emblematic traje de luces worn by the toreros. Lindsey Zimmerman.

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It is believed that the capes are red to hide the vast amount of blood transferring from the bull to the cape. Bullfighting is an inherently violent spectacle. A traditional Spanish bullfight is divided into three parts. The matador stabs the bull in the chest with a sword, causing profuse bleeding and suffocation while the bull chokes on his own blood. The matador may even cut the ears and tails off the still conscious animal as a trophy.

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The cruelty involved in bullfighting is even worse than what is on full display in the arena. He is kept in a dark box for a couple of days before he faces the ring. When the bull enters the arena, he is not the violent, aggressive creature spectators expect, but rather a disoriented and scared animal trying to escape.

As animal advocacy organizations have worked to expose the realities of bullfighting, local Spaniards have become increasingly disillusioned with the practice. In a study of over 2, Spanish citizens, researchers found that the majority of citizens did not like bullfights and the great majority did not attend or watch the events.

The results illustrate shifting cultural perceptions of the practice in Spain.

Women and young people were concerned with animal welfare while rural people were more likely to support bullfighting than urban people. Tourist attendance at bullfights is seeing declines as animal advocacy campaigns gain more traction.

Declines in attendance is having an effect on the bullfighting industry. With tourists becoming more aware and young people shifting away from bullfighting, the future is likely to be bleak for the blood sport. Yet, the practice still continues. Regional bans have been passed but to the dismay of many, a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia was overturned in The judges cited the importance of preserving cultural heritage in their decision.