Toros – The Spanish Bull and Bullfighting, options for the Traveler
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The Spanish Bull and Bullfighting

Bullfighting continues to arouse passionate debate between its detractors and defenders. An outdated barbaric legacy from the past? Or part of a cultural heritage that continues to employs thousands who claim la corrida (the bullfight) is a far more noble end to the life than the slaughterhouse? The purpose here is not to elaborate on the arguments nor to take sides but rather point the interested traveler in the right direction if he or she seeks to learn and understand more about la corrida and the world of bullfighting in Spain.

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It has been said that bullfighting is a “window into the soul of Spain and its people”, and so any taurine related experience should lead to a greater understanding of this “national culture” and help the traveler appreciate more of Spain’s uniqueness. There are all sorts of ways to take a foray into the world of the Spanish toro. The easiest and simplest is simply to attend a bullfight and make one’s own presumptions without any guidance or explanation. However, this really is more likely to deepen misunderstandings and ignorance, so it’s probably best to explore other options.

Attend a bullfight with an expert aficionado who can provide a rounded yet fascinating insight into what its supporters regard as an art form.

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Imagine a visitor to the States who attends their first baseball game without any prior knowledge of the sport and without anyone who can enlighten them. Whilst the hot dog may taste good and the atmosphere in the stadium full of interest, the spectator is hardly likely to come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball. So much better to be accompanied by an expert who can explain all aspects of the game. In Spain you may have friends to accompany you but if you seek a genuine expert, travel company Madrid & Beyond can arrange the perfect host for the afternoon.

Guide for bullfighting experiences in Spain

In fact, their closest collaborator is a TV analyst for national television during the famous San Fermines festival in Pamplona. He usually knows some of those involved in the bullring and has been known to introduce his guest to the bullfighter himself.

If you prefer to avoid the ritual and gore of the bullfight, there are many more opportunities to learn about the Spanish toro.
Take an excursion to a bull ranch and see how the bulls are raised. Visits are usually conducted by the chief bull breeder but there are usually opportunities to meet with the owners, who can be famous retired bullfighters themselves or members of the Spanish nobility.

Bull ranches are usually set in typical rural Spanish settings and provide a fantastic opportunity to not only ‘get off the beaten track’ but also enjoy a behind the scenes tour of an authentic part of Spain’s past and present. The excursions are conducted either by expert bull aficionados or by expert guides who also act as translators. A bull on a bull farm in Spain

English is not the strong point of the bull breeders! Hospitality though is typically generous and it’s a day that you are not likely to forget. Private excursions arranged through Madrid & Beyond.

bullfighters in their suits of lights Private access to the costume makers of the matadors and toreros. For those who choose not to take the excursion to the bull ranch nor attend a corrida but have a fascination for the ritual and costume of the corrida, Madrid & Beyond offer a unique private insiders access to those who tirelessly work to produce the highly elaborate costumes for matadors and toreros. Due to this elaborateness, color and material on the costume, the Spanish name for the attire is called the "traje de luces", meaning the "suit of lights".

You can take a behind the scenes visit to the private rooms where the trajes de luces are being prepared for the illustrious names in bullfighting today, such as Jose Tomas or El Juli. Visits can only be fairly short so they tend to be part of a private tour of Madrid or a specially themed private taurino tour of Madrid, including other important places and faces of the bullfighting world. A visit to “Las Ventas”, Madrid’s 25,000 seater bullring is a must.

Finally, for those who decide to visit Spain in early July and want to experience the ultimate Spanish fiesta “San Fermines” in Pamplona and the famous Running of the Bulls, then there are sorts of possibilities including renting a balcony overlooking the running of the bulls.
Enjoy your taurine experience in Spain!

To learn more about the services of Madrid & Beyond please visit my Recommended Spain Travel Agent page.

Please Note:

  • Madrid & Beyond does not book international airline tickets or make reservations at hostales.
  • Madrid & Beyond arranges trips in their entirety, not segments or single nights.
  • Madrid and Beyond's focus is on unique accommodations and three star hotels or above. Expect to pay at least 140 Euros per night for arranged accommodations

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More info on bullfighting can be found on these websites:
BullFighting info, from
PETA's counter to Running with the Bulls

Ronda Bullfighting History

Wickipedia - General info on bullfighting. Go here for Bullfighting info as practiced in Spain.


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This page last updated October 2009
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