Bullfighting in Barcelona: Its Monumental History to Today

La Monumental arena where the last bullfighting in Barcelona after the ban happened
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So you’re looking for the lowdown on bullfighting in Barcelona, huh? Maybe you’ve heard whispers about its controversial history, or you’re trying to piece together the passions, protests, and perspectives that make it such a hot topic in the Catalan capital.

Well, I live in Spain and, genuinely, one of the things I most appreciate about Barcelona is the fact that they’ve actually banned bullfighting here. But I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to chat with locals about this ever-polarizing subject.

Now, in case you can’t tell, I’m not at all waving the flag in support of the tradition. But I promise, by the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have an in-depth view of the situation in Barcelona – and just how it came to be like this compared to the rest of Spain.

Planning a trip to Barcelona last minute?

If you’re booking your trip to Barcelona last minute, I’ve got you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

⭐ Most popular sights in Barcelona

  1. Sagrada Familia – tickets often sell out weeks in advance so get your entry ticket here (or entry tickets AND a guided tour here)
  2. Park Güell – grab your skip-the-line entry
  3. Casa Batlló – click here for tickets and audio guide

🌍 Top tours in Barcelona

  1. Montserrat Tour, Monastery and Winery (great day trip!)
  2. Flamenco Show at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes (incredible night out)
  3. Tapas Walking Tour with Food, Wine, and History (all the highlights at once)

🛏️ Top hotels in Barcelona

  1. Ohla Barcelona (5-star luxury with an amazing rooftop pool)
  2. Seventy Barcelona (boutique hotel with beautiful décor)
  3. Àmfores Boutique Guest House (great budget option with superb location)

🚌 Want free public transport while you’re in Barcelona? Check out the Hola Barcelona travel card!

La Monumental arena where the last bullfighting in Barcelona after the ban happened

Does Barcelona Have a Bull Ring?

Yes, Barcelona has two bull rings that are still standing: La Monumental and Las Arenas. La Monumental is located at the confluence of Gran Via and Marina while Las Arenas overlooks Plaza España. They were once used for bullfighting, but now serve other purposes.

La Monumental, located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, is an iconic structure that stands as a testament to the city’s historic relationship with the sport of bullfighting. Built in 1914, the bull ring was the last active bullfighting arena in Catalonia before the regional ban on bullfighting took effect in 2012 (a great Barcelona fact if ever I’ve heard one!).

Nowadays, La Monumental serves as a concert venue, hosting a wide range of music events, including rock concerts. The bullring has welcomed several world-renowned artists to perform within its historic walls.

Bullfighting in Barcelona.

Additionally, the site houses a Museum under its grounds, which is accessible to the public. Visitors to the Museum can explore various exhibits related to the history of the bullring, as well as art and artifacts from its past usage.

The other former “plaza de toros” still standing in Barcelona is Las Arenas. Located in the Plaza España, this bullring was built in 1900 and was in operation until 1977.

In 2011, it was dramatically transformed into a modern shopping center, retaining its external façade. Now accessible via the L3 metro line, the rooftop of Las Arenas offers one of the best panoramic views of the city and is definitely worth checking out.

Are There Bullfights in Barcelona?

No, there are no bullfights in Barcelona these days, as bullfighting is not legal in the city. In fact, the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona, banned the sport in 2010. This has led to the former bullrings to be repurposed as event venues, museums and shopping malls.

Before the ban, bullfighting was a notable aspect of Spanish culture and entertainment, including in Barcelona. However, due to growing concerns related to animal cruelty, several regions, including Catalonia, have decided to bring this controversial practice to an end.

As a result, you won’t find any bullfights happening in Barcelona nowadays.

In the interests of being balanced, to quote some Barcelona-based bullfighting supporters, there are some people who say that the move to ban bullfighting in Barcelona (and Catalonia more widely) was motivated by politics. That is, some believe that it was based more on the Catalan independence movement and trying to make the community “less Spanish” rather than promoting animal rights.

If you’re still interested in learning more about the history and traditions related to bullfighting, there are alternatives you can explore. Consider visiting museums and sites that showcase the history of this sport, like the one at the former bullfighting ring La Monumental, without encouraging its continuation.

By doing so, you can appreciate this aspect of Spanish culture while also respecting the ban and supporting ethical entertainment practices in Barcelona.

Remember, when traveling to other parts of Spain, laws and attitudes towards bullfighting may differ. Although the ban in Catalonia is seen by many (including me!) as a positive step, be aware that the practice is still permitted, carried out and supported in certain areas outside of the region.

Did Barcelona Ban Bullfighting?

Yes, Barcelona banned bullfighting. In July 2010, the Catalan Parliament voted to ban bullfighting in Catalonia, the autonomous community where Barcelona is located. The ban officially took effect on 1 January 2012 making it the second community after the Canary Islands to ban this.

Bullfighting has been a controversial topic, especially in recent years, as animal rights activists have condemned it as a cruel and barbaric tradition. Catalonia’s decision to ban the practice was seen as a victory for these activists and a step towards more humane treatment of animals.

Bullfighting in Barcelona.

In the years since the ban, animal rights activists in Spain more widely have become more influential and achieving the ban in Catalonia has motivated them to seek similar outcomes in other regions of Spain. However, opposition from bullfighting supporters keeps the debate alive.

As it stands, Catalonia remains an example of how public opinion can lead to the end of longstanding, yet controversial, practices in Spain.

When Was the Last Bullfight in Barcelona?

The last bullfight in Barcelona took place on September 25, 2011. This marked the end of over 600 years of history in bullfighting in the city. Catalonia was the second region in Spain to ban this controversial tradition, with the ban going into effect in January 2012.

The final bullfight was held at the iconic Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona, also known as La Monumental. Fortunately, you can still attend far more humane events at this location, with concerts and other happenings often taking place there today.

History of Bullfighting in Barcelona

Bullfighting has deep historical roots in Spain, and Barcelona is no exception. The earliest recorded fight in Catalonia was in 1387, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that it became much more popular. Over time, bullfighting became a significant part of Spain’s culture, including in Barcelona.

La Monumental, an Art-Nouveau bullring, was built in 1914 and became an iconic venue for bullfighting in Barcelona. It wasn’t just a bullring, but also a cultural hub, showcasing the skills of matadors and their interactions with the bulls.

ullring and bullfighting arena Plaza Monumental de Barcelona

However, the tide began to turn against bullfighting in the 21st century, with growing opposition on ethical grounds.

In 2011, the Parliament of Catalonia banned bullfighting, making La Monumental the last active bullring in the region. This decision demonstrated Catalonia’s commitment to animal welfare and marked a significant cultural shift.

Although bullfighting is still practiced in other parts of Spain, including Madrid, Seville, and Valencia, Barcelona has moved on from this controversial tradition.

As you explore the city’s history, remember that Barcelona has evolved with changing values and priorities. The story of bullfighting in this city is an example of such transformation, and while the past is important, it’s equally essential to recognize the progress made toward more ethical and compassionate practices.

Is There Still Bullfighting in Spain?

Yes, there is still bullfighting in Spain, even though it’s a controversial tradition. While some areas, like Barcelona and Catalonia, have banned the practice, other cities like Madrid, Seville, and Valencia continue to host bullfights. These events draw a mix of intense support and opposition from locals and tourists alike.

Bullfighting has deep historical roots in Spain’s culture. In this traditional spectacle, a skilled bullfighter called a matador faces a bull in an enclosed arena – and, eventually, kills it.

In areas where bullfights still occur, you are, of course, welcome to attend one. But please be aware of just what you’re going to see – and support, by paying for a ticket – and truly consider if this is something that’s worth forming a part of your Spanish vacation, especially in a country with so many other amazing things to see.

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