Bullfighting is a very controversial topic in Spain right now. Many people think that bullfighting should continue to be a sport, while others wish to do it only for holidays and special occasions and then there are those who want bullfighting banned entirely for its inhumane practices.
Today we went to the Las Ventas Bullring, the most historic stadium for bullfighting in the world. The building itself is amazing. It is Spanish style, built from brick and large slates of granite.
In Catalonia, the northern region of Spain (Barcelona) bullfighting is illegal. However, Madrid is home to bullfighting. The season, in Madrid, lasts from May-November with fights held every day in May and every Sunday the rest of the season.
Each round lasts 20-30 minutes and there are four rounds in a fight. Which means about four bulls are slaughtered a night.
The fights consist of multiple people (at different times) weakening the bull. First, they stab the bull 10 centimeters deep to weaken him as he slowly bleeds out, then another guy stabs the bull with flags that hang off the bulls body causing it to run around in confusion with the movement of the flags (like a dog chasing its tail).
Then once the bull is too tired to entertain the people the bullfighters get the bull to charge one last time and stab a spear all the way through its body, killing it…eventually.
If the person is not successful in killing the bull, the bull will have stabbed its horns through the person, killing them.
With the catch that the fans can hold up their handkerchiefs to save the bull (if it was really “brave”…has only happened once in Madrid) and they can also hold up their handkerchiefs to give the bullfighter a trophy and if he gets the trophy he can also be given the tail (has only happened once in Madrid).
While I appreciate the historical and cultural significance behind it, I just cannot imagine enjoying watching “a sport” with so much blood.
Following our visit to the bullring, we had three-hours of free time and Shannon and I decided to try to see Museo del Prado, home to the largest private art collection in the world.
We were prepared to grit our teeth and pay the 14 euro to enter even though we would only have an hour at the museum before it would close.
We get to the museum and there is a line from the ticket office that went, I kid you not, a quarter mile long.
Disappointed and confused we found an attendant and asked why there were so many people in line, he explained to us that the museum is free for the last hour and that we would have to wait in line to get a ticket. The museum stops giving tickets at 7:15 or at a certain number of people whichever came first so there was a good chance we would wait in line and not get in.
Well we finally made it to the front of the line at 7:07, entering the museum at 7:10 we had 50 minutes to explore the largest private art collection in the world. Therefore, we grabbed a map and picked some certified “masterpieces” to view.
We were able to see 9 masterpieces including, Adam and Eve, Madonna of the Fish, Queen Mary Tudor, Durer Self Portrait, The Triumph of Death, Crossing the Styx, The Table of the Seven Deadly Sins, and The Garden of Earthly Delights.
We spent most of our time at The Prado admiring the work of Bosch whose paintings are representative of his interpretations of religious scenes. The works are a commentary of the way we live and the repercussions of those actions, but moreover they are so insanely intricate that I could have stared at the three panels of the Garden of Earthly delights for hours and still have discovered new things within the painting.
As well as admiring a remake of the Mona Lisa, done by Da Vinci’s intern (fun to see, as we will visit The Louvre in Paris in two weeks) and several remakes of The Last Supper, one of which Da Vinci’s intern painted.
Even with very little time, the Prado was worth the hassle!