Bullfighting is probably the most traditional of Spanish Fiestas, although not to everyone's liking. The Spanish people consider them and art form which is intimately linked to their country’s history, art and culture. It's doubtful if the bulls think that way. Pressure groups attempt to lobby against this 'sport'. Regardless, this so called 'sport' is slowly dying in popularity, with the region of Catalonia having banned them completely from 2012, with Barcelona's bullring, 'La Monumental' having seen it's last fight.
However in 2016 this local law was overruled by the country's Supreme Count as being unconstitutional. Some years ago Malaga's bullring was closed down due to lack of support and financial problems, and this situation may be being repeated up and down the country, football having taken over as the most popular sport.
A recent case where a bull got over the protective barrier and injured some spectators, has reduced attendances even more. This brings two areas in Spain The Canary Islands still bans bullfighting completely.
Bullfighting can be traced back to ancient days. They were popular spectacles in ancient Rome, but it was in the Iberian Peninsula that these contests were fully developed by the Moors from North Africa who overran Andalucia in AD 711. Bullfighting developed into a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with feast days, on which the conquering Moors, mounted on highly trained horses, confronted and killed the bulls. Bullfighting spread to the Spanish American colonies, where today, the largest bullring can still be found.
Bullfighting has been big business in Spain for many years, with the top matadors earning salaries to the nation's top soccer stars and rock idols. However, there has been a fall in the number of spectators over recent years, with a few bullrings closing down.
A Spanish bullfighting arena is called the Plaza de Toros. All major Spanish cities have impressive bullrings but probably the most outstanding are those in Madrid, Seville, and the little town of Ronda in the Malaga province.
The Ronda bullring was built in 1785 and is possibly the oldest and most beautiful in Spain. Previously it had been Philip II's centre for horsemanship training (Real Maestranza de caballeria). Bulls were used for this training and when one day an aristocrat fell from his horse, a Francisco Romero came to his help by using his hat to distract the bull. The hat was replaced by a cape and modern day bullfighting was born. Romero's grandson, Pedro Romero, developed all the passes and moves which to this day are seen at a bullfight. He retired in his eighties after killing more than 5,600 bulls without ever being hurt. Thus Ronda is considered the home of bullfighting.
The bullring in Ronda houses a small bullfighting museum.
One interesting bullring is in the village of Carratraca north west of Malaga. It is octagonal in shape and some of the seating built into a cliff against which the 'ring' is situated. Opened in 1878, it boasted a capacity of 3,000 spectators as well as excellent acoustics, and a number of famous matadors of the day performed here. Today it is still used during the August Fair, as well as serving as the venue for other events