The Retirees go Abroad – the Iberian Peninsula – Madrid and Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas

Thursday; and we are going to Ventas and the Ventas Bull Fighting Arena – Plaza de Toros. Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (often shortened to Las Ventas) is a famous bullring located in Madrid, Spain.

Situated in the Guindalera quarter of the district of Salamanca, it was inaugurated on June 17, 1931. It has a seating capacity of 25,000 and is regarded as the home of bullfighting in Spain. This bullring was designed in the Neo-Mudéjar (Moorish) style with ceramic incrustations. The seats are situated in ten “tendidos” (group of 27 rows around the arena), some of them in the shade and the rest in the sun. The price of the seats depends upon how close they are to the arena and whether they are in the sun or the shade (the latter being more expensive). The bullfighting season starts in March and ends in October; bullfights are held every day during the San Isidro Fiesta, and every Sunday or holiday during the season. Bullfights start at 6 or 7pm and last for two to three hours.

“Las Ventas” is divided into a ring or arena, and a group of zones called “patios” with ceramic representations of the heraldic crests of the different Spanish provinces. The arena has a diameter of 60 meters. The president of the ‘corrida’ sits in the 10th Tendido. The Royal Box is of outstanding design, with its Mudéjar architecture, a complete bathroom and a lift. Opposite to the Royal Box, in the covered grandstand roof, is the clock. The bullring has five gates, plus three more called “toriles”, from where the bulls enter the arena. The gate of the “cuadrillas”, between “tendidos” 3 and 4, has access to the horse yard. Inside this door, the “paseillo” starts and the “picadores” (those who pierce the bull with the lance) come out from here to the arena (“suerte de varas”). The dragging gate, leads to the skinning room, which is between “tendidos” 1 and 2. The famous “Puerta Grande” (Big Gate), also called the Gate of Madrid, is between “tendidos” 7 and 8. Going out through this door, especially during the Fiesta of San Isidro, is every bullfighter’s ambition. There are also a chapel and a small infirmary with two operating rooms.

Our tour included all of these and the room where they butcher the bull if he does not get a reprieve. Apparently only one bull in 50 years has fought bravely enough to earn the reprieve.

The admission price for our tour was 14 euros each and included an audio guide. It was worthwhile. There is a museum outside which is free to enter and is also worthwhile but no cameras or phones are allowed. The museum includes the apparel worn by various famous matadors (some still bloodied from gore wounds), portraits with brief histories of the most famous fighters and some video footage including the killing of both bull and matador. Not for the faint hearted.

We had the afternoon to work on our itinerary so we decided to explore the cost of a trip to Barcelona and started with a visit to the rail station. The old station building has been transformed internally and the train platforms moved so that there is now a rain forest with offices and restaurants in the old building. And what rain forest does not have a turtle pond. Here in the middle of the train station is a turtle haven where they seem to be acting more like rabbits. Anyway we made our enquires and went to a coffee shop in the Carlton Hotel nearby (looking for an internet cafe) went through the figures and decided no way Jose!

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Retired Australian Lawyer having worked representing the innocent and the not so innocent in Australia and some of the remote parts of the world and having travelled widely through Europe, Western Russia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand Malaysia Solomon Islands northern China, Hong Kong and the UAE So now that I have the time I am writing about my travels present and past. Hope you enjoy exploring off the beaten track.