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Things to do in Seville Spain - The Maestranza Bullring   by Juan Navarro

Seville's "Maestranza" Bullring is to the art of bullfighting what the "La Scala" in Milan is to opera. Both venues are considered the most prestigious and emblematic settings in which to perform.

The present Maestranza bullring has its origins in medieval times, when brotherhoods by the same name dedicated themselves to horse-breeding and the equestrian arts. Among some of the spectacles performed by the nobility were bullfights on horseback.

When bullfighting on foot became popular with the working classes in the late 18th Century, work on Seville's Maestranza Bullring began and continued for over a century. 

Its capacity for 12,500 spectators does not make it the largest bullring in the world, but many consider it to be the most beautiful. The distinctive neo-Classical gleaming white façade with its clean geometric lines and Roman arches outlined in yellow ochre, its elaborately fashioned "Prince's Gate" (which every matador dreams of exiting triumphantly on the shoulders of the crowd), the golden sand inside the ring, all conspire to make the Maestranza a monumental "plaza de toros" that has given wing to legend, film and theater.

Although the art or ritual of bullfighting might not be fully appreciated by much of the non-Hispanic world, we find evidence of the importance of the horned beast or bovine, considered the supreme god of nature, throughout all cultures of the world. The cave paintings of Altamira in northern Spain confirm the ancient ritual of the sacrifice of this beast in order to insure the survival of the community. It is interesting to note that the modern Spanish fighting bull is a direct descendent of these ancient bovines and would now be extinct if it were not for the bullfight.
In many parts of the world today, we have nothing to compare with this spectacle, so it is important to keep in mind that the Spanish fighting bull is a unique species, following his instincts in the ring to charge anything that moves, regardless of size or color. He has not been trained or manipulated. He also lives a longer and better life than a steer raised solely to end his life in a slaughterhouse. 

The matador who confronts the bull is a participant in a drama which, when properly performed, will display the bravery of both man and bull. And the matador's brush with death will often bring about a catharsis in the public, a sense of renewed appreciation for life which will transcend any particular moment in the plaza.

Even if there are no bullfights taking place, you can visit the museum in the Plaza de Toros that displays matadors' costumes, bullfight posters and original works of art with taurine themes, including a parade cape painted by Picasso. As part of your visit, you can enter the ring and actually tread the golden sand, as so many famous matadors, such as Joselito, Belmonte, Manolete and Seville's own Curro Romero have done. You may also visit the chapel where they have prayed before entering the ring and the infirmary where they may have spent some agonizing moments that are part and parcel of this "fiesta de los toros".

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About the Author - Juan Navarro, is a major tour agent in Seville Spain. 

Latest update: January 24, 2017