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Bullfighting at Plaza Mexico - Other Activity Mexico City - Mexico

Bullfights, or la corrida de toros, is a Spanish tradition that was enthusiastically embraced by Mexicans from all walks of life. While bullfighting is declining in popularity in Spain, it remains an integral part of Mexican culture.

The 48,000-seat Plaza Mexico in Mexico City is the biggest bullring in the world and has two seasons. The temporada grande runs from late October to early April and the temporada chica (or novillera) from July to early October. The temporada grande is more expensive as it's when the more experienced toreros and bigger, more ferocious bulls perform.

For most foreign visitors, and indeed many Mexicans, the bullfights are brutal and old-fashioned. If you decide to watch a skillful, daring matador in action, you might either find yourself agreeing that fighting bulls is cruel or you may start to appreciate the artistry that goes into the sport, despite the blood and gore.

As a spectator, you can take your cues from the crowd. Mexicans applaud the truest artists with shouts of olé, but boo clumsy techniques that cause the bull undue suffering.

Usually three matadors kill two bulls each in an afternoon, each fight being divided into three acts.

During the first act, flamboyantly caped toreros try and tire the bull out. Then the picadores on their blindfolded, padded horses attempt to use their lances to draw first blood and weaken the bull's neck (if they are successful, the bull will lower his head during the rest of the fight, creating an easier, less dangerous target for the matador).

In the second act the toreros or matadores try and stab the bull with bandilleras, which are frothily decorated, but wickedly barbed, metal spikes.

Finally it's time for the suerte de muleta or "act of the cape," where the matador fights the exhausted, furious bull to the death. A "good" kill involves the bull almost bowing to the matador, who cleanly thrusts his sword between its shoulder blades. Ideally, the first strike will hit the bull's heart and cause the animal to instantly crumple to the sand. The best kills, decided by the crowd's applause and by arena officials, are rewarded by one or two of the bulls' ears, or sometimes even its tail. Matadors who have fought bravely and well, may also end up circling the ring while roses and other gifts rain down.

If the crowd decides by the final act that the bull has fought particularly bravely, they can also choose to pardon the animal. Pardoned bulls are returned to their farms for breeding. For good or ill, a bull may only enter the Plaza de Toros once.

Seats cost between $5 for general admission (which involves sitting in the sun), to $60 for the best, shaded ringside seats. Fights are held every Sunday at 4 p.m.

Getting there: take Metro San Antonio or MetrobĂşs down Insurgentes to Ciudad de los Deportes.

See for information on fights (the website is in Spanish only)

Mexico City, Mexico

Other Activity Types:

Price Description: $5-$60

Travel Skills: None

Here are other activities in and around Mexico City that may be of interest: Templo de San Hipólito , Monument to the Niños Héroes, Plaza México, Plaza de Santo Domingo, Paseo de la Reforma, Puente de Alvarado, Templo de San Fernando (San Fernando church), Tren Escénico, Plaza Loreto and Museo Pantéon de San Fernando (San Fernando cemetery museum).

02 Jan 2009

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