Spain & Travel Resources

Bulls in Spain, Where History and Culture Meets Animal Cruelty

About Bulls in Spain and why we DO NOT support it

Bulls in Spain may be a touchy subject. Although I do not support it, and Spain Uncharted will never post or promote a Bull related activity, it is important to understand the traditions and why we do not support it.

 Behind Bulls in Spain: Traditions and Culture

Many Spanish cities and towns have long celebrated their feasts with some sort of bull related activity. Widely known is the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. This is where bulls are released into the street and people try thier luck to out run them. Eventually the bulls end up in the city bull fighting ring where they will be speared to death.

Other traditions in smaller towns include inclosing a large area and chasing a bull while on horseback and throwing spears at it until it collapses. As well as a tradition where cotton is wrapped around the horns of the bull and set on fire.

And of course, everyone knows of the bullfighting, where a bull is teased in a closed ring. The bull “fighter”, Torero, tries his best to tire out the bull by dogding its charges and distracting it with his signature cape. However, the bull is continuously speared until it looses too much blood. Once the bull collapses the Torero delivers a last killing blow. Depending on the crowded reaction he cuts of a piece of the bull as a prize.

Although these events sound horrific, they are engraved into Spanish culture. From thousands of years before Christ, images depicted the events. Over time the eventbecame more sophisticated. This included using capes and horsemen to aid in forming a spectacular for viewers. Since the 1720s however, the practice has remained unchanged.


Spanish history and culture bullfighting

But why did this start?

I found an interesting article from a Torero perspective. It basically states that boredom was the cause, as men wanted to hunt animals as a sign as strength. But the bull was different. The text states

“This beautiful and awe-inspiring beast, with its unique noble bravery would, when provoked, rather die fighting than flee – in essence, transforming the hunt into an avid exchange in which the bravest warriors could bring to light their courage.”

Thus the showmanship of the event began, as men battled the “beasts” to demonstrate their courage and finesse. This of course would be nothing without the crowd and its cheers which dictate a winner or not.

Spanish history and culture bullfighting


I can appreciate the history and culture, but there is no explanation that can defend these events as uncruel. It isn’t even a fair fight, as they need to weaken the bull tremendously before delivering the final blow. Let’s see them fight a bull, in the wild, without horsemen with spears, and let’s call it a bull fight.

More so now, more people in Spain are starting to see these practices as cruel and are taking efforts to increase awareness as well as decrease support for them. More and more cities are starting to ban the practices and the idea is spreading across Spain.

This is great news; however, there are many people who have a deep found pride for Spain and feel that this is Spain’s culture and the tradition should be kept. I believe history is important, but we can learn from history and keep its stories while still moving on. If this wasn’t the case, how would any country recover from the world wars we have experienced?


Spain Uncharted on Bulls in Spain

I do not support any activity that involves this cruelty, and thus if that is an experience you are looking for, for you need to find it elsewhere. If you want to learn the history and the culture behind the tradition and bulls in Spain you can go to a museum; however, I highly discourage going to a bullfight or any bull related event. Spain has so much more to offer culturally  anyway.


In the Mexican set animation, The Book of Life, they touch on the injustice of bulls in Spain in the theme of bullfighting, and hope to inspire change for the good. They made a beautiful song for it found on the soundtrack:


What is your opinion on bulls in Spain? Let me know in the comments below!