Corrida de Toros… Spanish tradition or animal cruelty?

When I think of Spain I think of 3 things Tapas, Flamenco and Bull Fighting. From the moment I knew I was coming to Spain I knew I wanted to eat tapas (oh and I have ate so many), watch a Flamenco show (I’ve seen two one in Granada and one in Sevilla) and attend a Corrida de Toros. Well during my time in Madrid not only was I able to attend Occupy Madrid, but I was also able to snag a cheap ticket to watch a Corrida de Toros. Before I get started on my thoughts about the event let me explain to you what exactly is a Corrida de Toros for those of you that may not know.

Corrida de Toros is bullfighting the Spanish tradition that is thought to derive from Roman influences more than several 100 years ago. Some love it, some hate it, but it’s a tradition that is still going on and strong all over Spain. During my visit to the Corrida I was able to snag photos of each step of the process. I will explain below step by step how a Spanish-Style corrida is done.


Before it all begins you have to make your way to the FAMOUS “Madrid Plaza de Toros”.

Here you can see it is a big stadium/arena.


The Corrida starts with the Paseillo with everyone involved in the bullfight entering the arena. 


After everyone enters the arena and they are granted permission to start. A door is open and the bull is welcomed to the arena. A bullfight consist of three parts called tercios (thirds). The first tercio consist of a bullfighter using a capote large pink & yellow rag to basically warm up the bull. 


Also part of the first tercio is two picadores (pictures above is one of them) that jab the bull with a lance. 

The picador has three main functions:

-To pierce the muscle on the back of the bull’s neck in order to straighten the bull’s charge.

-To fatigue the bull’s neck muscles and general stamina as it tries to lift the horse with its head.

-To lower the bull’s head in preparation for the next stage.


The second tercio is called “la suerte de banderillas” and consist of baderilleros attempting to place two colorful sticks with barbed point while running as close to the bull as possible into the bulls back.


The final tercio is called “suerte suprema” and it is when the Matador (killer) enters the ring and uses his cape to attract the bull in a series of passes which serve the dual purpose of wearing the animal down for the kill and producing a beautiful display of art and skill.


The final tercio and the Corrida ends with the Matador killing the bull by his sword. Sometimes it takes more than one or two jabs with a sword to kill the bull. 


After the Matador has killed the bull side helpers come to make sure the bull is really dead by stabbing it in the neck a few times and then cut off all the banderillas that were stabbed into it’s back.


Then as if it were nothing the bull is dragged off the arena and taken out of sight. As this is being done the arena is being cleaned of all the blood that the bull left everywhere (you can see that being done in the back right hand side). 


Then that is it the Corrida is over. This same process happens 6 times and last about 2 hours.


So what do I think of this… Honestly even after two weeks that have passed I don’t know how I feel about it. The truth is it’s a Spanish tradition I have always wanted to see. So I did just that I went and was a spectator and then left. The funny thing is during the two hours I was there not once did I cheer for the Matador. A part of me thought it was a bit too easy for them I mean really the bull is tortured and practically weakened so much before the Matador confronts it. Why not give the bull a fair chance at confronting the Matador and let them confront each other while they are both 100% strong? I know really of everything that is wrong with bullfighting that is what I am thinking about. Yes it really I just don’t see it if fair for the bull.

In reality I am not for it or against it. I think I am impartial because I see it both ways it’s a long Spanish tradition, but at the same time I would be wrong if I didn’t say it is not animal cruelty as well. I mean damn look at the pictures they slaughter the poor bull infront of us. I would compare this to using cock-fights or dog-fights as a form of entertainment. It is form of entertainment that is in fact cruel to the animals that are taking part in it.

The strange thing is that I am not the only one that is divided… it seems like Spain is too. Here some Spaniards love it and some hate it. I think it depends on the region of the Spain you are in. When I was in Madrid I didn’t seem to come across anyone who was against it, but now I am in Barcelona. Here in Barcelona a lot of people hate it and are completely against it. They are so much against it that recently the put it up for a vote to discontinue Corridas de Toros with in the city limits and it passed. Barcelona has two main bull arenas and one of them has already been turned to a mall. You can see the picture below of what the arena looks like now and its a full on mall inside with a roof with several nice fancy restaurants. It also has a 360 terrace for the public to go up and see the city. I was amazed at what they did with it. Kind of made me sad that Houston still has no clue what the fuck to do with the Astrodome (I know off subject, but sadly the dome is still sitting there doing nothing for us).

In the end I am not for it or against like I mentioned above… I do know though that I would never go and watch another Corrida again. I saw it once like I wanted too and that was that. Some traditions that are outside of our own we just want to witness once and let that be that. I think if I did go again to watch a Corrida it wouldn’t be for the bull fight, but to just watch the hot men in tight clothes prance around… just look at them below? I mean right???

Sorry I had to mention that at least once, but okay now in all seriousness I would love to hear what you have to say or think. Do you think times have changed and this is in fact animal cruelty no matter how they try and put it? Do you think it is a tradition that should end? Do you think it is a tradition that should be kept alive?  Have you been to a Corrida de Toros? If you have what did you think of it? If you haven’t been to a Corrida would you attend one? Let me know below I would like to hear your point of view on this matter.

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  1. I had no idea that in a bull fight they stuck barbed wire sticks into the bull’s back, or actually killed it! It seems like a strong case for animal cruelty. It’s a spectator sport without a purpose. I do see how it’s a part of Spanish culture, as its been practiced for so long, but I don’t see the value in it? On the other hand, I don’t see value in American football either – I guess they’re the same as they’re spectator sports about brute strength. PS – yes, those outfits are impressive!
    Patricia GW recently posted..Food in Paris – Part I

    • Pat yes sadly they do stick barbed wired sticks in its back and then kill it. I don’t see the value in it either, but at the end of the day see it as a tradition. I mean really I see it as both and just don’t know. I love what you said about American Football because I do feel the same way about that jajaja…

      Oh & yes the outfits are amazing. So are the butts jaja~

  2. I had no idea they did this either. It seems extremely unnecessary…using animals for sport is one thing…I think they should at least be treated with respect, not put through unnecessary pain.
    Dean recently posted..Temples of Laos: Ho Phra Keo, Vientiane

    • Dean seem like so many people don’t know that they do this. I am glad I am able to share this with people. I agree using animals for sports is one thing, but they shouldn’t kill it.

    • Dean,
      It is very important to them. It is something that will always be there. Kinda like how we think of baseball. Just an American tradition. It has tons of historical importance to the people of Spain. The meat from the bull goes to charities and nothing is wasted. If the crowd liked the fight, the choose to let the matador have a horn, or an ear as a trophy. The hide is used as leather and idk what the bones are used for.

      • Jaime Davila says:

        Thanks Ryan, that’s true about the culture and it’s good to know none of it goes to waste. In the end I still don’t know how I feel about this.

  3. Like the other commenters I was unaware that they actually kill them. I can understand why you went – it has been part of their culture for a very long time and many are fascinated to see it. But I don’t think I could ever bring myself to watch one. It upsets me even looking at these photos. Unfortunately I can’t see the point of provoking a defenceless animal to kill it for peoples’ enjoyment.
    Julia recently posted..The View From My Window: Saigon

    • Yeah Julia at the hostel a few of the girls I was with that day refused to go because they did not want to see an animal being treated bad. Then when I got back I howed them pics and they too had no clue that they killed the bull. Even I at a few times was like wow that’s enough…

  4. We have to understand this is their culture, and they’ve partaken in it for many many years before the US was even a country. There is no right answer as to whether it’s right or wrong, it’s just different. In Valencia, I went to a bull-fight as well, and I was myself shocked when seeing it live for the first time. I had to understand this is just another way of life in Spain. When you see how passionate others in the stadium are about the sport and tradition, you can’t help but feel like it’s okay what you’re watching. There are plenty of examples we can give as an American culture where other nations look at us and think the same thoughts that we do when we see things like bull-fighting. I say SPANISH TRADITION all the way! 🙂

    • Jorge, I like the way you put it that they have been doing since before we were a country… I mean damn that is true. I agree I think there is no right or wrong answer & I think that is why even in this post I was not sure how to answer it cus I saw it both ways. I like though that you were able to pick tradition. Oh & yes it is so different when you are watching it live… you are just like wow.

  5. I knew this was a controversial issue but I never knew they killed and treated the animals so badly!

    While I’m no big animal activist, this definitely comes off as animal cruelty to me, no matter if its traditional or not. Like Dean said, they could at least treat the animals with respect and not cause it unnecessary pain.

    • Shey, wow it seems like no one knows they kill the bull I am glad I am able to share this info with my readers. Again I completely see your point of view, because I too am NOT a huge animal rights activist, but what they are doing is harsh.

  6. I think the tradition argument is bullshit – It’s cruel, and even though it is a spectacle that doesn’t make up for the cruelty. We used to allow dog-fighting and bear-baiting in England, it was an ancient tradition – but eventually we realised it was cruel and banned it. No-one misses the tradition. The fact that the Catalans have realised the same thing is great, and I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before the rest of Spain catches up.
    Geoff recently posted..My 7 Links: Revisiting some old favourites

    • Geoff that’s true… I guess with time some traditions have to come to an end when we know it’s just not right. I like the way you put that cus it’s true. We know it’s wrong so should stop it.

    • Geoff, I completely agree with you. Corrida de toros is animal cruelty no matter how you look at it. Tradition is not a good justification for this, nor really anything else when it comes to abusing animal or human rights. However, I have something to add about the Catalans. While it is great that los corridos are banned in Catalonia, the reasons behind the ban are arguably less admirable. According to one of my friends that is from Barcelona, it is illegal in Catalonia less for the benefit of the bulls, and more as a nationalistic statement. Basically, many Catalans want independence and see themselves as very distinct from the rest of Spain. Thus, banning this iconic symbol of Spain is all about politics; it’s a nod to their cultural sovereignty.

  7. Do you know what happens to the bull afterwards? Will they sell his meat or…?
    I too can’t decide if I’m pro or against it. I’d probably go and watch a corrida if I had the occasion, but I would end up feeling sorry for the bull too. After all it’s a tradition so it’s definitely hard to stop it. I’m not being very coherent I know, hehe:)
    Giulia recently posted..Post-post revolutionary Egypt: safety, perspectives, rumors

    • Giulia ja I’m not coherent either… I have mixed feelings on it. Oh damn it I forgot to mention that yes after they kill it they sale it too fancy restaurants to use for dinners. I think you wouldn’t enjoy it if you went, but I think it’s something you should check out for yourself.

  8. QueenBrain12 says:

    Why is bull fighting a tradition? What this just a form of entertainment over several 100 of years ago? If so, then yes, times have changed and this form of entertainment should expire. I was excited to read this blog because when I think of Spain I think of bull fighting. But the details of each picture just disgusted me and I felt sorry for the bull. I understand tradition but can’t comprehend why anyone would want to abuse and be cruel to animals openly like this and get paid.

    The Astrodome is a real eye sore and should be dealt with asap. uff somethings don’t change.

    i love you and miss you!


    • Jaime Davila says:

      QB, it’s a tradition because it’s something that has been happening for 100s of years. So I assume you had no clue that all this happened to the bull either??? Yeah I felt sorry for the bull too, it’s just wrong and cruel, but at the same time it’s something they have been doing for so long… but I guess some traditions must change as we evolve and know better. About the Astrodome I know they should… I think they have waited to long and should demolish it. I mean really it’s just sitting there and costing us tons of TAX $$$$!!!

      Miss ya too and love ya!!!

  9. It’s both a tradition and an animal cruelty. But some traditions are not meant to last – saying that we have to keep continue doing something that’s downright wrong just because we’ve been doing it for a long time would justify many other things people have fought hard to end: slavery comes to mind. We’d never progress as a society if that is the mentality that we have. Just my two cents.
    jill recently posted..What’s the big deal about San Pedro de Atacama?

    • Jill thank you so much for your comment… I love the way you put it, because that is so TRUE. Some traditions are meant to change. I wanted to mention that because when I think of traditions that need change is Marriage and I know that is a tough one for people to see, but had I included that this post would have been like 1000 more words.

  10. Hello Jaime

    What a great experiences and insightful journey. Just a quick question, is the show showed on daily basis or we have particular dates? I’m going to Madrid soon none stating anywhere of the schedule of the show. May you have any suggestions anymore hotspots in Madrid I shall be going that’ll be awesome. Anyways, found your blog through Earl. Been reading to him for awhile, and now I’m instantly hooked up to your blog. lol

    I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Have you been to SouthEast? I may wanna start my RTW, hopefully.


    • Kero, I am glad you found my blog and are now enjoying it! As for the schedule of the shows, I know they are not every day. I’m not sure but once you are there you can ask. I think it’s 3 times a week! I love Earl’s blog and enjoy it a lot. I will be going to SEA in a few months.

  11. In China, tying woman’s feet was part of tradition, wasn’t it? That ended. I think the tradition argument is completely fallous and using it to support this kind of monstrosity is clearly horrifying. I don’t eat meat. So with the clearest of consciences, I can say THIS IS CRUELTY. And for sport? Why? Whats so fun about watching a defenceless creature being brutalised? Afganisthan has a bloody tradition of dancer boys or something. India [ where I’m from] has jalikattu [ similar to bullfighting, but none of that barbed wire crap, and its not that popular except in one state, plus the bull isn’t killed], but do you see me supporting it for tradition’s sake? NO!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Esme, after reading your comment I must say I agree with you 100%. It really is cruelty and should be stopped. I didn’t know about the other things you mentioned so will look them up for sure.

  12. Willow Martin says:

    Hi Jaime, this is animal cruelty in its clearest form. I understand it’s a tradition but tradition doesn’t make it right. Many countries have traditions, such as female genital mutilation, that has been going on for centuries. In the southern parts of America, cock fighting is a tradition. Heck, even my college – University of South Carolina – has a game cock as it’s mascot, but it’s wrong and we’re fighting to stop it. Even Spaniards aren’t fighting to outlaw this and it’s their tradition. Times change and people change with them. What’s right in one season isn’t right in another one. It’s time for them to either change the way they treat the bull or to stop the fights all together.

    • Willow Martin says:

      I mean to say even Spaniards ARE fighting to outlaw this. 🙂

      • Jaime Davila says:

        So true Willow everything you just said. We have to continu to evolve as we learn that things aren’t right. Honestly it was hard to watch because it’s just so gruesome.

  13. James Nolan says:

    Too say there is no right or wrong is an easy way out. I will say without a shodow of a doubt that it is wrong. I accept that it’s a tradition but that is no reason to continue something. The stone age came to an end, not because we ran out of stones but because we evolved. Culture changes over time. When bull fighting started the predominant cultural view was that animals are here for humans to use as they please. The church maintaned that animals had no ‘soul’ and scientific understanding a couple of hundred years ago said that animals don’t feel pain. Set against that background it seems rational that people would engage in something like bull fighting. Now we know that animals feel pain and experience fear and distress. With that scientific understanding comes the responsibility to examine our practices. In short, bullfighting is a cultural tradition but it is also cruel and degrading. It degrades both the animals and the people the cultures that practice it. There is an old saying which suggedts that Europe ends at the pyrenees. I don’t agree with this view point but whilst Spain hangs onto cruel notions of sport which disappeared from the rest of Europe a long time ago the accusation that Spain is a little backward seem legitimate.
    One argument that the pro bullfighting lobby put forward is that it’s about passion and commitment. So i ask all of you to stop sitting on the fence and make up your mind. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean that -A the tradition has to be respected (foot binding, suti, honour killings are all traditions) or B the tradition can’t be changed.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Well said James I wrote this post almost 2 years ago and since then have learned so much more and you are right in everything you said.

  14. that is cruelty
    i hate matadors(killers) the are cruel to bulls and a disgrace to the animal race im sure they wudnt want that to happen to them so why do it to a bull im practically crying for the bulls.what did the bulls ever do to them. that is the meanest thing i have ever heard and seen.


  15. matadors are shitty
    gabby recently posted..How to keep control of your budget in Cyprus .

  16. Isabella_11 says:

    Well hello,
    I am currently writing my extended essay on this matter and other animal-cruel traditions that are practiced in spain. I am completely against this. There is one thing i would like to point out and that is it.

    -If the bull were someone you loved, would you like them to be tortured and killed in that brutal way? It is a living creature. They cut its testicles in order to make them angry and keep them in the dark for 24 hours before hand. this causes the bull’s eyes to basically be blind for the majority of the start of the bull fight. The bull itself, like we do has feelings, -is surely scared-.. what has it ever done to deserve a certain death..? i mean, we only live once, and that one life that bull was given is taken away so easily just so a few spanish or tourists can be entertained.-

    wow. this just tells you how much we care for our surroundings and other living creatures..

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Isabella, you have a very valid point and I completly understand where you are coming from. I hope you don’t think this is something I support, because by all means I do not. This is something I always wanted to see and did and was very conflicted about.

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