Plaza de Toros

15 Sep

Whatever your opinion of bull fighting, you will be moved by the visual power of La Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, seating 12,000 and the largest bull ring in the world.

Our visit changed my understanding of the art of bullfighting. I had conceptualized toreros as athletes but ballet dancers would be a more accurate. Rigorous training from an early age (16 in Spain and even younger in Mexico) couched in a centuries old traditions of tauromachy create the exquisite art of facing a charging bull in the ring.

The hand-made clothing, shoes, hat and cape, known as the “suit of lights” encapsulate the glamour of the matador de toros (killer of bulls) and picadores (jabbers with lance.) Toreadors (bullfighters on horseback) are mostly found in the opera “Carmen” but seldom in the ring today.

There is a backstage chapel where the bullfighters wait to enter the ring. In the corner of the chapel, by the doorway, is a large water jug. It is tradition that each torero say a prayer and take one last sip of water banishing their last fear before entering the bullring.

Toreros enter the ring through a locked gate. As the lock slides back there is a sharp, metallic sound as the bolt drops. This sound is the bullfighters’ symbolic marker between life in the world and death in the bullring.

Seats in the arena are valued by sun and shade. The sunny seats are the least expensive at about 60 Euros and up. And the shady seats are quite dear starting at 150 Euros. The seats under the roofed colonnade cost even more.

When “superstars” are in the ring all 12,000 seats are sold out and ticket scalping is rife.

The defining event for a triumphant matador in Sevilla is to exit the ring through the glamorous main gate hat in hand, waving to the crowd. If the bull is extremely brave he is, sometimes, pardoned. But for this to happen the audience must wave white handkerchiefs before the bull is put to death. Then the President of the Corrida may wave his own white handkerchief and the bull is spared, taken back to his old farm and bred in the hopes of more future bravery by his progeny.

6 Responses to “Plaza de Toros”

  1. Maryl Travis September 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm #

    After seeing the photos of the bullfight stadium in Sevilla, it reminded me of a couple of incidents I had regarding bullfighting. When I was living in Barcelona (in the 60’s), I went to a bullfight. You are right. The pageantry of the matadors, toreadors, etc. was like a ballet with those elaborate, colorful costumes. When I was asked to go with some friends, I hadn’t realized the impact it would make on me seeing the tragic final stages of the “ballet”. Then, when I was living in Mexico, I dated an American Matador (the first one in Mexico) but told him I could not go to see him in the arena. After about the 5th date, his friend called from the hospital to say that he had been gored and he was in serious condition. He survived, but not our relationship. TMI?

    • Jill September 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

      I knew you had that wild era of your life in Spain. Did not remember that it was in the New World as well. I seem to remember a shady Spaniard in there too. But ah what grand entertainment now that we are in our 70s.

  2. Richard Thirston September 15, 2018 at 7:47 am #

    Rips/tears/holes in any of the clothing?

    • Jill September 15, 2018 at 8:12 am #

      Displayed suits pristine. Owners obviously timid.

      • Richard September 15, 2018 at 8:24 am #

        I’m convinced the fights are rigged.

      • Jill September 15, 2018 at 8:27 am #

        Jeesh. Don’t say that to a Sevillano or the local bulls.

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