Romero’s bull-fighting gave real emotion, because he kept the absolute purity of line in his movements and always quietly and calmly let the horns pass him close each time. He did not have to emphasize their closeness.
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, Ch. 15.
Early one afternoon in Valencia we toured the bullfighting museum. It is located adjacent to the city’s old bullfighting ring, the Plaza de Tores
Originally built in the 1850s and now lovingly restored, the Plaza de Tores is a single-purpose facility.
The beautiful stadium is not used for soccer matches or rock concerts, nor for any other function, except bullfighting.
Later we saw, although we did not tour, Seville’s bullfighting arena, the Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla.
There are people who think that bullfighting in Spain is a thing of the past.
We used to be among them.
But we learned differently during our visit to Spain.
The continued vitality of bullfighting in Spain is not to be doubted.
Many people, like Hemingway, love bullfighting.
Others, perhaps especially foreigners, tend to identify more with Robert Cohn, the antagonist in The Sun Also Rises, who found it cruel and gruesome.
In any event, we did not attend an actual bullfight during our visit to Spain.
We were content to tour the bullfighting museum in Valencia, and admire the portraits and statues of the slender, graceful matadors, both in Valencia and in other cities we visited in Spain.
We also watched a bullfight on television. We happened upon the broadcast at a taberna in Seville, although the match was in Madrid.
One aspect of the bullfight that will stay with us is the danger it poses to the matadors.
Even the most skilled among them are vulnerable to being gored by the fierce bulls.
At the museum in Valencia, we read about several matadors over the past 100 years who died in the ring, including two brothers.
We can certainly understand why the Spanish admire the grace, the daring, the skill and the pure physical courage of their matadors.