It has everything: drama, fantastic costumes, controversy! Bullfighting in Spain is closely tied to its culture and history. Some have gone so far as to say that if you don’t understand bullfighting, you cannot understand Spain.
Wherever you fall on the ethics of bullfighting, La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is worth a visit for some insight into a very important part of Spanish culture. You can take a tour of this venue, which is renown as the largest bullfighting ring in Spain. Here are all the details so you can plan your trip.
Know Before You Go
Las Ventas is to the northeast of downtown Madrid, adjacent to the Salamanca shopping district. You can take a cab or ride share to get here, but we took the Metro, which was easy, fast, and affordable at just €1.50 per person! The Ventas Metro stop puts you right on the plaza in front of the stadium.
Las Ventas is open for tours daily from *10:00am-8:00pm*.
Tickets for the tour and audio guide are €14.90 per person. If you’re not that interested, you can skip the tour and visit the museum around the back for FREE!
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit Spain
You can buy your tickets in advance, but you don’t need to do so. We walked right up at 10:30am and bought our tickets there. Your tour includes an audio guide, which you will definitely need if you’re like me and don’t know anything about bullfighting.
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The museum is FREE to visit! Just walk around the back and head on in. You will have to put your bag (purse, backpack, etc.) in a complimentary locker, and you are not allowed to take out your phone in the museum, FYI.
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Highlights of the Tour
The stadium was completed in 1929, and not only is it the largest bullring in Spain, it’s also one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid, in my opinion! I love the Moorish details, with the pointed arches and gorgeous tile work. Somehow it’s larger-than-life and yet understated at the same time (especially when compared to the Art Nouveau style of so much of the city! It’s a beautiful building from any angle.
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The Rudeo (The Ring)
I’m pretty sure that looks like the word “rodeo” for a reason! The bullfighting ring itself is made of sand that goes down four feet deep. It seems like a simple circle at first, but then you listen to the audio guide and start to realize it’s more than that. And yes, they still have bullfights here! Walking out there was a very unique experience.
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It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right? The enfirmeria, or infirmary, is just through a separate tunnel that connects the bull ring to what is essentially an emergency room and surgery. Almost every bullfighter experiences injuries throughout their career, and if it happens to you, you want the best medical care possible, as soon as possible. In 75 years at Las Ventas, over 300 people have been injured during a bull fight. Only 5 have died so far.
Even though I got yelled at in Spanish by a security guard who then followed me through the entire museum (I was taking notes on my phone to give Las Ventas FREE publicity on my blog), I still have to say this was a highlight of our visit.
The audio tour did a great job of explaining what we were looking at and what bullfighting was all about, but the museum took it further in that it talks more about famous bullfighters, bullfighting costumes, and the bulls themselves. I really enjoyed seeing the costumes in particular, especially the women’s costumes!
One of my favorite things I learned is that “Do up your tassels” is a phrase Spaniards use to encourage each other when they’re about to do something difficult. This is a reference to the tassels on the matadors’ bullfighting uniforms!
Need more? Check out all you need to know on my dedicated Spain Page!
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