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 136.

    Debate on animal cruelty is often narrow, just the tip of the iceberg. We don't need to eat meat or fish or anything from animals, i.e. milk and eggs (male chicks/calves killed, hens/cows exploited)
    And we're not more important than animals.
    Some food industry practices are very inumane. For example KFC should be one of the first to be in court, the way they kill chickens is horrific.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    A great choice for Catalonia well done.

    Now perhaps we could ban our cruelties to dumb animals here in the UK by banning Big Brother & other so called reality shows..

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    109 by rebecca riot - ban horse racing?

    so two horses die in the grand national each year? - far more are killed each day on the roads by car drivers hitting horses - so ban cars by your logic?

    horse racing is part of our heritage - IF you have ever ridden you would know that you CANNOT make a horse do something it does not want to do!

    horses enjoy running/racing

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    The Catalan legislation is a pure propaganda stunt. Conveniently the Calatan practice of driving bulls with lighted fireworks on their horns and letting the frightened and crazed animals running along the streets as a part of many townships fiestas is not prohibited. This has escaped the media, but would have enraged the majority of Catalans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    I hope all you anti-bull fighting folks are vegans... if you're not, then you are just simple over sentimental hypocrites.

    As has been said, if slaughter houses were transparent, no one would eat meat.. or wear leather for that matter.

    So Vegans... fair enough, you have a point... as for the rest of you.. go look in the mirror, but first go to a slaughter house.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    My Aunty is Catalonian and they see Bull Fighting as a continuing symbol of Franco's oppression of the Catalonian people. This isn't about animal welfare, it's about a people shunning the representations of those who sought to wipe out their cultural heritage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    We must learn to enjoy without others pain.

    The problem in Spain , like in another countries is that there is a lot of money around these shows and also people mentality. We think that we have all the power over the rest of living being. There is also a lack of education .

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    119 by moneymatter - guess you don't go to the game fair?

    and oppose shooting/fishing? - part of our heritage that provides thousands of jobs from both within and outside the uk

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Whenever bullfighting is discussed there will inevitably be those who say that they want as many bullfighters as possible to be gored or killed. Do you not see the paradox? You defend animals but wish pain/death on fellow humans just because they don't share your values which are, remember, not engraved in stone, but are simply your views. Think on that if you're equipped for rational thought...

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    I think the bulls should have a vote on what they think. Seriously though killing animals for fun and entertainment is on a par with what they used to do in the Coliseum in Rome. Totally barbaric.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    To put it bluntly; I was always taught not to play with my food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Yesterday Catalonia said: 'Bye bullfighting'. Although this ban is to show to the world that they aren't Spain and they may want to be a independent country. I think, it is a sad day, because they have lost one of their traditional costumes and this terrible event would dissapear a long time, because it is supported by old people and youngs don't like it. Come back soon and dissapear itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    I'd say there's a major difference between using animals for sport and slaughtering animals for entertainment. It's about time this age-old barbaric tradition was consigned to the history books. Claiming it as part of Spanish 'culture' is no excuse. Really it should have gone out with the Roman arenas. Perhaps this is their very last vestige.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    "67.Tamburello 2 Hours ago -ruffled_feathers: The matador pits his superior intelligence against the animal's superior strength and weaponry and is supposed to win every time." Superior intelligence - you mean trained reactions - the bull has no training beforehand, does not know what to expect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    And it's not just the bulls. Spare a thought for the poor ponies which are tossed out into the ring to distract the bull into goring them when the "brave" matador gets into trouble and needs rescuing. Bullfighting is all about cowardice - a fair fight it is not. Quite how anyone could see bravery in it speaks to the twisted minds of some.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I'm British but I living in Spain near my hole life in Spain. I don´t think that people who is struggling against the bull fighting has any intention apart from this . Nothing to do with politic . They are fitghting against the animal cruelty from the bad named "Human being".

    Culture and tradition in Spain are based in Barbarism.

    Animal cruelty musn´t be tradition and Culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    "This world is becoming a limp wristed place were men are not allowed to be men". So being a man is inflicting pain on an unwilling victim for your amusement, is it? The animals, unlike boxers, can't choose to take part in blood sports. Bullfighting is the tip (http://bit.ly/oeRh0D) of a sadistic iceberg in Spain. Begins with animals, ends with women and children. Catalunya is moving to takle this

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.


    Article 10
    a) No animal should be used for entertainment.
    b) Animal exhibitions and shows that use animals are incompatible with anÊ animal's dignity.

    Article 11
    Every action that causes the unnecessary death of an animal, is cruel which is a crime against life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I dont live in spain but i respaect there culture so all these AR people should do the same have respect for people not animals as we are the dominant

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    The only reason to keep bullfighting is that, occasionally, the tortured to near death bull manages to get its horns into the guy in the spangly suit.


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