On this day we woke up bright and early to board the metro to Las Ventas, home of Madrid’s bullfighting stadium. I thought the bullfighting stadium would be a long way away from our hotel, but it only took four or five stops before we arrived at Las Ventas. When we walked out of the station, I was absolutely amazed. The bullfighting stadium was breathtaking! The building was constructed of reddish-brown bricks and had a Spanish and Muslim influence. I loved the Muslim style of the pillars on the top of the stadium. It was only the morning, but I could hear the roars and cheers from the crowd echoing the whole stadium in my head.
One of the things that made this tour so unique was our tour guide, Raul. Right off the bat, Raul was enthusiastic and brought so much energy to the group. Personally, I was very excited to tour the bullfighting stadium, but I was not sure if other people were as excited as I was. I feel as though Raul made everyone interested in being at the stadium, even if they did not support bullfighting. Raul told us about Madrid’s best fighters as well as the statues outside of the stadium. One of these statues was for a cocky bullfighter who claimed to be the greatest of all time, even though he was only an amateur. Raul told us that when this bullfighter did this, the whole crowd booed him and threw objects onto the field to show their disdain toward him.
Next, Raul showed us the hallways inside the stadium. I really appreciated the architecture of the windows. They were large, still had the Muslim influence, and brought in so much natural light. A very interesting attraction in the stadium was a virtual reality game in which the user was the bullfighter. I really wished that I had a chance to play the game, as I think bullfighting is one of the coolest, most exotic things about Madrid, however, we could not stay there playing the game all day. Oliver, Kelsey, and Alicia all did great and survived the bulls! Not only do matadors have to survive the bulls, but they also have to entertain the audience with flashy moves and swagger. Personally, I think that Oliver had the most finesse!
Raul then had us watch a video that was an introduction to bullfighting as well as a brief history of the sport. During this video, we learned how the bulls were raised and the criteria for a “good bull”. The bulls are raised peacefully on a farm with acres on acres of land to roam, run, and battle each other. According to Raul, the best bulls have wide horns that are also flatter and less pointy. This is because it makes it easier for the bulls to catch the matador. Raul mentioned to us that the bulls are not allowed to see any of the matadors before they enter the stadium, too.
I felt so excited once the bullfighting started. I thought that the fight would be one matador against one bull, however, there was a whole crew of fighters in the battle. We sat on stone seats with very little legroom, but I felt so culture-shocked that the aches in my legs and feet were not too bad. When the bull was slain, I realized that that was the first animal I had ever seen be killed in front of me. I was not too disturbed, as I felt like the matador had defeated the monster or final boss.
While I do not necessarily support animal abuse, I enjoyed bullfighting and think that the Spaniards should not be criticized for it. In the United States, livestock can live their entire lives with one inch of wiggle room, while they are being pumped with growth hormones as well. The bulls used in bullfighting live long, natural, and healthy lives, but experience a gruesome death. It may sound cruel for me to say this, but the bulls are going to be used when they are dead regardless. Raul mentioned to us that some of the bull can be eaten by humans, such as the cheek and tail, but the rest of the bull is used for pet food. No sports in the United States guarantee death like bullfighting does in Spain. I think that is what makes it so fascinating to people. It was so fascinating to me, which is why I stayed for five matches with Aaron and Jon. The matadors are risking their lives for our entertainment, which I can appreciate. I would recommend tourists in Spain to watch at least one bullfight, and if it is not for them, they are welcome to leave after the first fight is over.
After the bullfights were over, I went and got dinner with Aaron and Jon at a restaurant five minutes away from the arena. I got huevos rotos, which is fries eggs over french fries, but mine came with bull tail over the dish. It was definitely the best huevos rotos I had on the trip. I always tried my first gelato in Spain that night, which I definitely recommend!