Photo by stevendepolo
Las Ventas is the most important bullring in the world with a capacity of 25,000; it was inaugurated in 1931 with a charity bullfight. It is considered the hardest bullring for matadors to succeed. For a Spanish matador, being carried out of Las Ventas on the shoulders of his fans is the statement of ultimate career success. Take the metro to Las Ventas station or a bus from Calle Alcala to get to the plaza.
Bullfights are scheduled every weekend from March to October but the best time to appreciate the real art of bullfighting is during the months of May and June when the San Isidro festival takes place in the city. There are fights every day for three weeks where Spain’s best matadors attract fans from all over the country. Tickets during the festival are usually sold out in advance and prices vary according to the seating area; sunny areas cost less than shaded ones. For the rest of the season you can get tickets the same day of the fight in the bullring.
A bullfight consists of three matadors, each one appearing with two helpers, against six bulls (two for each matador). It usually lasts for about two hours. The most experienced matador goes first, except when there is a new matador to be presented to the public; this presentation is called “alternativa”.
The fight is divided in three rounds called “tercios”. During the first one, the matador fights the bull with a big cape while one of his helpers provokes it with a “pincho”. In the next round “banderillos” come and stick on the bull three pairs of “banderillas”, sticks with colorful garments, preparing the bull for the third round. The final round is the most important and interesting part of the fight. The matador alone receives the bull with a small red cape and a sword. He has to kill him by thrusting the sword between the bull’s shoulder blades, all this done in an artistic and graceful manner.
If the public likes the fight, it will award the matador with one or two of the bull’s ears or the great price of two ears and a tail. If the last is awarded, the matador is leaves the plaza by “la Puerta Grande” or the big door and it is considered a triumph.
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