Plaza de Toros & Museo Taurino
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Plaza de Toros & Museo Taurino information
East of central Madrid, the Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas (Las Ventas) is the most important and prestigious bullring in the world. A visit here (especially as part of a guided tour, which must be booked through Las Ventas Tour in advance) is a good way to gain an insight into this very Spanish tradition. There's also the fine Museo Taurino , and the architecture will be of interest even to those with no interest in la corridas (bullfights).
One of the largest rings in the bullfighting world, Las Ventas has a grand Mudéjar (a Moorish architectural style) exterior and a suitably coliseum-like arena surrounding the broad sandy ring. It was opened in 1931 and hosted its first fight three years later; its four storeys can seat 25,000 spectators. Like all bullrings, it evokes more a sense of a theatre than a sports stadium – it also hosts concerts.
To be carried high on the shoulders of aficionados out through the grand and decidedly Moorish Puerta de Madrid is the ultimate dream of any torero (bullfighter) – if you’ve made it at Las Ventas, you’ve reached the pinnacle of the bullfighting world. The gate is suitably known more colloquially as the ‘Gate of Glory’. Guided visits (conducted in English and Spanish) take you out onto the sand and into the royal box.
The Museo Taurino was closed for renovations and expansion at the time of research. Once it reopens, expect a new space dedicated to bullfighting legend Manolete, as well as a curious collection of paraphernalia, costumes (the traje de luces , or suit of lights, is one of bullfighting’s most recognisable props), photos and other bullfighting memorabilia up on the top floor above one of the two courtyards by the ring. It's a fascinating insight into the whole subculture that surrounds bullfighting.
The area where the Plaza de Toros is located is known as Las Ventas because, in times gone by, several wayside taverns (ventas ), along with houses of ill repute, were to be found here.