The Art of Bullfighting in Sevilla

A bullfighter artfully dodges a bloodied bull in Sevilla

After a wonderful week spent together in Portugal and Dublin, it was time for Amanda to head back  to the states. It turned into a long trip for me that probably could’ve been avoided with sufficient planning. At this point of the trip I had done enough planning far enough in advance and wanted to wing it . Somewhere towards the end of our trip together I decided that I was going to go to Spain instead of touring the north of Portugal. This Spain excursion had me starting in Sevilla and working my way east along the coast and then up to Madrid, ultimately circling back to Lisbon. Sevilla is quite close to Lagos, ~3 hours, but since we rented a car in Lisbon, I had to return it back to the rental agency. So, what could’ve been a 3 hour trip turned into a 12 hour trip. I really wasn’t in a rush, but it was unnecessary none-the-less. The silver lining was that I got to plow through the HBO series True Detective, a must-see show in my opinion.

I arrived Friday night and walked 30 minutes from the bus station to my hostel. The city was buzzing with people spilling out of bars and restaurants. Loads of people were drinking in the streets and snacking on tapas, having a grand ole time. I dropped my bags off and meandered around the city, soaking in the energy that Sevilla had to offer.

I was up early to explore the city and get my bearings. It was plenty hot, but I still saw plenty of men walking around dapper as can be, in colorful pants and button down shirts, sometimes even jackets. I’m not sure if this is because it was the weekend leading up to Feria de Abril, or if this was the norm, but I liked their style! I just wouldn’t want to wear that in 90+ degree heat. Note: A good way to stand out as an American? Easy, wear shorts.

Eager to catch a bull fight, I made my way to the arena, and purchased a ticket from a man on the streets in my broken spanish for $10. There was quite a crowd surrounding the arena, with a large lineup of horse and carriages, along with women and men adorned in fancy outfits. After a number of pictures, I made my way inside excited to see the bull fight. What followed was a parade of horse drawn carriages through the arena for the next couple of hours, eventually I put two and two together and figured out I bought a ticket to this horse show, and not a bull fight, the fight was held later in the afternoon.

I made a beeline for the exit, and made my way to the ticket office and bought myself a bullfight ticket. I spent a few hours meandering around the city, sampling tapas and walking around the city.

Finally the time had arrived, it was bull fight time! For those that are big animal lovers, stop here. For those that want to know more, lets go!

My seat location? Last row, with a column obstructing some of my view. I’ll chalk it up to a combination of a packed house, and my weak command of the Spanish language to negotiate a better ticket. The festivities started right on time, there was plenty of pomp and circumstance as the bullfighters entered the arena and they were treated to a very warm welcome. Luckily for me I actually caught a bullfight that was a little out of the ordinary. I envisioned a bullfighter standing in the ring waving his pink and yellow cape teasing the bull as it narrowly misses him with each pass. What I got was a bullfighter on horseback, known as a rejoneador. The rejoneador and his horse  tease the bull to charge. The bull never seems to catch the horse, a Tom and Jerry kind of relationship, narrowly escaping the bulls horns each time, and once the bull gets close the bull fighter stabs it with a dagger. This is to exhaust the bull, ultimately to the point of submission. Wherein the bullfighter dismounts his horse, and 3 of his assistants  known as a picador(s), disorient the bull into a state of trance by waving the pink and yellow capes. Finally the bullfighter finishes the bull with a swift stab to the brain with his sword, and the bull is defeated, and then dragged around the arena and out the doors. Sometimes the rejoneador is not so technical with his sword, and it takes him a number of tries to finish the bull off. I expected some gasps from the crowd, because I know I did, but they remained unfazed, and once the bull was finished the crowd erupted with applause and adulation.

I ended up staying for what was probably 4 fights, and that was enough for me. It was pretty gruesome, and not for the faint of heart, but alas a very important cultural tradition for the Spanish. I’m happy I got to experience this, but it’s not something I find myself returning to in the near future.

I ended up spending 4 days in Sevilla, and I loved the city. If it was a seaside city it’d compete with Barcelona for one of my all time favorites, and an escape from the oppressive heat (now I know why the Spanish take siestas!) Regardless, it’s a place you should definitely visit for a few days and soak up the food, culture, and architecture.

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