VALENCIAVALENCIA.COM - Valencia City Guide and Travel / Tourist Information

Will You Go To Hell For Watching The Corrida?

Is corrida cruel?

Yes, it is. It is better if you don't fool yourself and understand from the beginning that you will see 5 or 6 animal killed, and killed slowly. You will see blood, you will see the bulls feeling the pain. You will see the spasms when their spinal cords are severed. You may also see their still conscious eyes when their severed bodies are dragged off.

However, it is not a slaughter. The bulls are of high breed and much respected by the bull-fighting world. They are adversaries who die with honour. It is not simply a cliche to justify the cruelty - it really is the public opinion. The matadors attempt to finish the kill as swift as possible to avoid it turning into a slaughter. Disrespecting the bull by a slow kill is likely to induce the anger of the crowd.

Is watching corrida responsible tourism?

Some pressure groups discourage tourists to watch corrida with an argument that survival of corrida relies heavily on tourist revenue. As such, you would be partly responsible for this act of cruelty.

We would not talk for other locations in Spain, but in Valencia this point of view has no basis in reality. Very few foreigners go to see bull fighting. It is pretty much 100% the locals, and the Spanish tourists who fill the bull ring (and the bull ring is always almost full). You can get extra evidence by seeing how corrida in Valencia is publisized - you will not find the information in tourist offices or tourist resources. It is actually hard to find out about seeing it if you are not from here. The bull fighting outlets know very well where their customers are, and they make no attempt to attract tourists. Bull fighting is a major industry in Spain, with plenty of local backing and corporate interest. You are just a visting drop in the ocean and you make no difference whatsoever. At least in Valencia.

If you go, or not go, to watch corrida you will not make any effect on whether corrida in Valencia survives or not. It is simply your own personal decision. Don't blame yourself if you go and don't flatter yourself if you don't. If, in future, bull fighting becomes mostly a tourist show, we will inform you.

Should you go to watch it, and why?

The corrida is an ancient Spanish tradition and has been a part of the nation-building, reflected in many arts and precipitating in the spirit of the Spaniards, from the last simpleton to the brightest intellectual. Bull-fighting imagery is deep in the Spanish blood and everyday communication. Take it or leave it but Spanish culture is non-existent without bull-fighting - all the way to the most mundane bar chat. Watching bull fighting is undoubtedly an insight into Spain and will be a profound travel experience wherever your moral allegiance lies. Add to it the costumes, the music, the atmosphere - you have an angle on Spain that is not just a postcard, but actually offers many different dimensions.

On the other hand, you will see animals suffer and die. The realism of flesh and blood will be before you. You will sit in the arena feeling the seriousness of the situation - this spectacle will rob several living beings of life forever.

Bull-fighting is a true controversy. As any controversy, there are so many different opinions that no one could tell you whether you should or you shouldn't. Some people enjoy a spectacle where animals get killed - some people hunt or have a more existential view of life. Others don't like it as such but they can bear it to see other aspects of the spectacle. Yet others would want to see corrida to make their own opinion of whether it is right or wrong.

You are not in any way influencing this suffering. It is simply a matter of whether you want to, or whether you can, see it. Corrida is a profound cultural experience for your trip but you also have to keep in mind the brutal reality of the event. If you are extremely sensitive to animal suffering, you might not want to see it.

The only thing we could tell you on the subject is no matter what you make of it, it will make a deep impact on you. One may want to see bull fighting at least once just to form his own opinion regardless of what everyone says.

Our opinion

We do not promote corrida. It has been a difficult decision on the part of team whether to include a section on bull fighting in Valencia or not. The corrida controversy is so polarised that we will make a lot of people angry whatever we say here. In the end we decided that our job is to bring you all available information on Valencia, as objectively as possible, and let you decide for yourself.

If you want to know what we think, however, here it is. It is somewhat of a concern that the ritual emphasis in corrida seems to be on the actual harming of the bull rather than a fair fight. We would like to see, for example, a bull fighting a matador in full strength rather than with blood all over him from the pikemen. It is also a concern that the public cheers most when, once again, the bull is harmed or killed, rather than when there is an elegant move on the part of either of the fighters. The concern here is that primary motivation for the regular corrida-goers may be blood lust rather than appreciation of skill. Although this aspect varies from season to season, the majority of bull-fights are during public holidays - thus attracting a very general, and often tipsy, crowd.

It seems unneccessary to kill the bull in the end. The bull is not badly damaged and could easily recuperate. It would be a truly noble and impressive spectacle if it was simply a bull-fight, not a bull-kill. The actual kill is a one or two-minute long rush-finish of the fight and does not make any impact on the visual splendour of the event. It seems absolutely unneccessary.

We would like to see corrida where a man faces the bull with no helpers to shove pikes into him. We would like the bull to be in full strength, not worn out by stab wounds. And once the bull is tired and stops fighting, we would like him to walk out of the arena. We would happily praise the courage of that matador (of course, he would have to pick himself another job title).

Back to top


© 2006