Bullfighting in Madrid: tradition and controversy

by Jules on August 7, 2013

When people travel to different countries, they make it a point to visit different tourist attractions like historical places but when it comes to Madrid, a tourist’s travel is not complete without watching bullfighting, which is an age old tradition of Spain.

Bullfighting: A National Heritage or a Bloody Sport

Bullfighting is presented with a glorified image to the public, with a brave matador willing to risk his life to fight a ferocious beast such as a bull. However, spectators are not aware of what is really happening. The bull is not really an aggressive animal. It has been physically abused before the bullfight and has weakened due to the several cruel things done to it. It has been drugged and half blinded, among others.

Controversy on Bullfighting

There has been a dispute on bullfighting as philosophers, politicians and matadors debate on the retention of this symbolic but bloody sport. While it has already been banned in places like Catalonia, it is still very much alive in Madrid as the local government declared bullfighting as a protected part of Spain’s cultural heritage. According to Esperanza Aguirre, head of Madrid’s conservative regional government, bullfighting is a form of art, which is worthy of being protected because since time immemorial, it has been part of Spanish and Mediterranean traditions. Moreover, some people argue that bullfighting is important to keep certain species that could become extinct if not used for this purpose, because they are no longer useful for work in farms and are not intended for direct consumption of meat.

How Bullfighting Affects the Economy of Spain

Catalonia was the first region of Spain to ban bullfighting since January 1, 2012. This has financially affected the region and the whole sector, which has been struggling due to Spain’s economic crisis. The bullfighting sector has about 40,000 employees in Spain, and the ban has caused huge loses for a sector that provides a living for several families. Bullfighting generates billions of Euros every year for the economy of Spain, and this significantly dropped with the ban of this sport in Catalonia. The biggest setback to this practice is the animal protection law to take away bullfighting from being exempted from a ban on mistreating or killing animals.

Importance for tourism

Regardless of whether one is pro or against bullfighting, one thing is certain: it is a major attraction of tourism in Madrid. Thousands of people visit the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas every year, especially at holiday time in the city (San Isidro, in May). The bulls are present in many of the souvenirs bought by tourists and virtually any Madrid online travel guide refers to this type of art. But if you decide to go to these events when visiting the city, please consider different opinions about it before deciding.


Bullfighting is part of the Spanish culture. This is the argument commonly used by defenders of this sport. However, others say that a culture should be more about enrichment of people, and this should not include public viewing of animals being tortured. What we all agree is that bullfighting is a spectacle that leaves no one indifferent.

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment