I have to say up front that bullfighting is not my thing. Call me squeamish, but watching a bull being tormented and killed for no reason, no matter how impressive the battle, doesn’t interest me one bit. It’s cruel and senseless.Having said that I do like history. And the history and culture of matadors, their dance with death and why they are revered is interesting, and where better to learn about it than in Seville, home of the oldest bullring in Spain?
So I took a walk to the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, the bullring that stands proudly next to the river. The museum is attached to the bullring and they have an obligatory guided tour, so I decided to visit and leave it at that.
The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, is not the largest bullring in Spain but is the oldest, dating back to 1749, and considered the most attractive. It was here that the corrida, or bullfight as we know it today, moved from horseback to foot, and many of the cherished theatrical traditions of the matador and his close quarters duel with the bull evolved.
Perched on the stands inside the oval bullring, we were told about the history of the ring and shown the access gate where only successful bullfighters exit, and the theater box reserved for the exclusive use of Spanish Royal family.
Then we were taken to the museum under the stands where, in three distinct sections, we learned the origins of bullfighting and its evolution until today. There are art exhibits, matador costumes, old weapons and mounted heads of famous bulls.
It’s more interesting than it might sound. And on the way out, you’re reminded that what a dangerous affair it was as you pass the chapel where the matadors used to pray.