Bullfighting in Barcelona ends with Catalonia ban


Supporters for and against the ban clashed in Barcelona after the fight

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Bullfighting fans in Catalonia have seen the last fights before a ban on the age-old tradition comes into effect in Spain's north-eastern region.

About 20,000 spectators filled Barcelona's famous Monumental arena, where top matadors performed.

Lawmakers voted for the ban last year - the first in mainland Spain - after 180,000 people signed a petition.

They say the bullfighting is barbaric, but opponents say they will challenge the ban in Spain's top court.

Sell-out show

Start Quote

For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage”

End Quote Critobal Corrida fan

The ban takes effect on 1 January, but Sunday's fights in Catalonia were the last events of the 2011 season.

Spain's top three matadors performed at the arena on Sunday, including legendary Jose Tomas.

They killed six half-tonne bulls to loud shouts of "Ole!" of the fans.

After the last animal was killed, the crowd carried the three matadors on their shoulders out of the arena to the applause of onlookers.

"For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage," Cristobal, one of the fans at the Monumental, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Tickets for the historic bullfights in Barcelona sold out at record speed. They were trading on the black market for up to five times their original value, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Spain reports.

Many corrida (bullfighting) fans protested outside the arena, carrying posters which read "RIP" in blood-red letters and blowing whistles.


  • Those taking part in the a bullfight are called toreros, while the person in charge of killing the bull is the matador de toros - killer of bulls
  • Fighters can be awarded the bull's ears, tail or hooves as a trophy
  • Barcelona's last bullring, the Monumental, stages 15 fights each year - each contest involves about six bulls
  • Author Ernest Hemingway was an admirer of Spanish bullfighting and wrote about its rituals in 1932 in Death in the Afternoon
  • The tradition dates back at least 4,000 years and is thought to have been popularised by the Romans
  • It remains popular in southern France, Portugal and some South American countries

But such large crowds have been rare at the Barcelona bullring for some time, and this dwindling support is one reason the regional parliament voted in favour of banning the corrida, our correspondent adds.

She adds that there is also a growing awareness of animal rights and, crucially, the desire of Catalan nationalists to distinguish the region from the rest of Spain and its traditions.

Bullfighting is permitted in all other regions of Spain except in the Canary Islands, which banned it in 1991.

Campaigners hope to extend the ban across the country, but they face a far tougher task in traditional bullfighting heartlands like Andalucia and Madrid, our correspondent says.

She says many people there dismiss all talk of cruelty and argue that the corrida is an age-old art form that must be protected and preserved.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I've had properties in Spain for over 20 years and have been holidaying there for over 30. I've been to one bullfight. It's dying out naturally, no young Spaniards are interested in it. Our local bullring has not been used for over 10 years. Some areas, like Ronda, still have supporters but in general there is no interest by the younger people, it will die naturally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Are they still throwing donkeys from towers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    kimorris9: At the end of your post you say 'After the kill 50% of the meat is given to the poor and needy'. This is sadly a myth. The much valued meat is mostly sold to restaurants (it's hard to find in the supermarket). But eaten it is, which is a compelling reason for killing the animal if you're a meat-eater like myself!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    ... and eating any kind of animal products. Meat is murder...and so is milk and so are eggs (plus appalling "living" conditions).
    I agree Halal killing is awful but all forms of killing animals for food and clothes are cruel... they hear their friends' screams while waiting in line, smell their blood, they're terrified. The stun guns don't always work well. And animals want to live, just like us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Tamburello #48: "bulls learn too much in the ring to be sent out twice" In other words matadors fear a fair fight...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    My final comment is when bullfighting is finally banned, hundreds of fabulous echosystems maintained for the purpose of raising fighting bulls will be lost, as will that fine sub-species, the toro bravo, since who will breed such animals when there are no bullfights? Remember, the toro bravo today is a creation of man for the specific purpose of being killed in the ring: no corridas = no bulls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Some GOOD NEWS on this day!
    Well done Catalonia.
    Now we need to root out the sadists here in the uk. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Good! Cruel entertainments such as this one have no place in our age of 21st century, the age of freedom, modernity, democracy, equality and so on and so forth. This entertainment perhaps belonged to an age when life of animals and slaves were treated with immense disrespect. Today, we don't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Seeing traditions die is almost always sad. In the 60s bull fighting was already questionable, but it made Spain different and exotic, qualities it is losing fast due to globalisation, the internet and television. Having said all that, it's time has come. Say goodbye with a sad smile, but say goodbye. Oh,amd can't we accept it as change without the usual arrogant screams of victory please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    ruffled_feathers: You claim that 'many bull-fighters have claimed that it is [fair].' I say name one. Of course it isn't fair, otherwise thousands of bullfighters would die every year ('good thing too!' I hear the antis say). The matador pits his superior intelligence against the animal's superior strength and weaponry and is supposed to win every time. When he (or she) doesn't, it's an accident.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Spanish bull fighting is somewhat misunderstood. Bulls do not go into the ring until they are four years old, those four years are spent with the best grazing and veterinary care available somewhat different to the factory farmed animals who never feel the sun on their backs instead fattened and slaughtered for food. After the kill 50% of the meat is given to the poor and needy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    I think that the Audience should be made to watch Chris Rea's Santo Spirito Bull Fighting film first, then decide if the "fight" should continue

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    So much support for a barbaric tradition ...back in India suddenly looks like a developed world even with the baggage of unimaginable history and traditions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    @#57 - "... they could also see the excitement, tradition and culture of the Spanish people ..." - I do hope you pointed out that 'Spanish' culture does not have to involve such barbaric cruelty. Indeed, that it will survive without torturing animals. You are insulting the Spanish people if you don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I just wanted to point out that there is an inaccuracy in the article. The first region in Spain to ban bullfighting was the Canary Islands. Could the author of the article please change that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    ooOOooh nice, and as by way for a replacement sport a "bull run" great sport for the bull and the runner alike, the Pampolma "run" is just so envigorating!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Yes fair move.....now examine halal butchery practices and the grand national. Both clearly cruel and barbaric practices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Well done Catalonia!

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    at last............well done Catalonia for doing what should have been done centuries ago, let's hope the rest of Spain catches up to the 21st century and stops this barbaric torture of animals masquerading as culture and sport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I am British. I took my teeneage children to a bullfight in Ronda last year for them to experience the event and make their own minds up. Whilst they thought the sport was cruel, they could also see the excitement, tradition and culture of the Spanish people. Personally I find the average British football match hooligan says more about barbarism than the highly civil crowd at a bullfight.


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