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Las Ventas: Madrid bullfighting ring

Madrid bullfighting ring, also known as Las Ventas, is the largest bullfighting ring in Spain. Located in the east of central Madrid, the Mudéjar-style venue can seat 23,000+ people, and it has hosted a brilliant lineup of concerts from The Beatles back in 1965 to AC/DC.

The bullfighting season starts in mid-March and ends in mid-October. The most important event is the Festival de San Isidro during which a bullfight takes place every day, from mid-May to mid-June. Tickets are sold out almost every day, so book your tickets as soon as possible.

Las Ventas is the largest bullring in Spain, so despite being a bit out of the center it is worth a look for the impressive architecture. In addition to this, you should visit the Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum) to get a comprehensive look at the history and evolution of bullfighting in Spain.

 

How to get to the Madrid bullfighting ring

Las Ventas bullring is located in the east of Madrid, and the exact address is Calle Alcalá, 237.

There are many options that you can use to get there on time.

 

1. Public transportation

  • Subway:
    • Get off at Ventas station on lines 2 (red) and 5 (light green).
    • This is my preferred option as it is the cheapest and most reliable means of transportation.
  • Buses:
    • You can choose from lines 12, 21, 38, 53, 74, 106, 110, 146, 210, N5 and N7.
    • Not as fast at the subway because you depend on the traffic, but it is still a cheap option.
  • Taxi or ride-sharing company (e.g. Uber, Cabify).
    • It is the most comfortable option.
    • But you risk getting late or paying a high rate depending on the traffic.
  • Any other shared vehicle (e.g. motorbike, bicycle or electric scooter).
    • You are not affected by traffic.
    • You need to know where you go. Don’t get lost or you risk getting late.

 

2. Car (rental car or any shared car option)

You should definitely not drive on your own to get to Las Ventas.

There are a number of reasons for this recommendation:

  • If you encounter a traffic jam, you risk getting late.
  • You risk getting lost. Nowadays, navigation and mapping tools such as Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze work perfectly fine 99% of the time. However, it is very easy to make a mistake when following directions.
  • On-street parking is paid and controlled, and the car parks nearby are expensive.

If you decide to drive, chances are you will get late to Las Ventas. And you won’t be allowed to access the tendido (seating section) once the first bull has entered the arena.

 

How to access the Madrid bullfighting ring

You access to Las Ventas depends on what you plan to do:

 

If you want to do the Madrid bullfighting ring tour

This 1-hour audio-guided tour through the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas takes you around the building’s emblematic areas.

Usually the meeting point is at Las Ventas main gate, located at Calle Alcalá, 237.

You can only access the Madrid bullfighting ring tour through the Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum). The museum is located in Avenida de los Toreros, opposite of Calle Alcalá.

 

If you are attending a bullfight

The first thing you need to do is to locate your entrance gate. This information is on your ticket, but here is a summary:

Tendidos bajos

Preferente: Puerta 18
Tendido bajo 1: Puerta 15
Tendido bajo 2: Puerta 18
Tendido bajo 3: Puerta 1
Tendido bajo 4: Puerta 3
Tendido bajo 5: Puerta 5
Tendido bajo 6: Puerta 6
Tendido bajo 7: Puerta 8
Tendido bajo 8: Puerta 10 and 11
Tendido bajo 9: Puerta 13
Tendido bajo 10: Puerta 14

Tendidos altos

Tendido alto 1: Puerta 12 and 17
Tendido alto 2: Puerta 12 and 17
Tendido alto 3: Puerta 4 and 17
Tendido alto 4: Puerta 0 and 4
Tendido alto 5: Puerta 0 and 4
Tendido alto 6: Puerta 2 and 7
Tendido alto 7: Puerta 2 and 7
Tendido alto 8: Puerta 9 and 16
Tendido alto 9: Puerta 9 and 16
Tendido alto 10: Puerta 12 and 16

Gradas, andanadas and palcos

Andanada of tendido 1: Puerta 17
Grada and andanada of tendido 2: Puerta 17
Grada and andanada of tendido 3: Puerta 17
Grada and andanada of tendido 4: Puerta 0
Grada and andanada of tendido 5: Puerta 0
Grada and andanada of tendido 6: Puerta 2
Grada and andanada of tendido 7: Puerta 2
Grada and andanada of tendido 8: Puerta 16
Andanada of tendido 9: Puerta 16
Andanada of tendido 10: Puerta 16
Palcos from 0 to 15: Puerta 16
Palcos from 16 to 29 : Puerta 17

Once inside, look for the information signs to get to your seat. The numbers of the tendidos bajos and tendidos altos are written above the gateways in the passageway:

  • Gradas, andanadas and palcos are located high above so look for a staircase.
  • Palcos are always near the main entrance.

Now, navigate throughout the corridors until you find the inside gate (named “puerta” on your Madrid bullfight ticket) leading to the bullring section (tendillo) where your seat is.

Finally, now that you are in the grandstands, look for your row (or “fila“) and your seat number (“número” or ““).

 

History of the Madrid bullfighting ring

From 1913 to 1920, bullfighting gained such a momentum that Madrid’s former main bullring, Plaza de Toros de la Fuente del Berro was not big enough. Built between 1873 and 1894 next to the Carretera de Aragón, in the area where the Palacio de Deportes now stands. It was finally demolished in 1934.

But back to Las Ventas, it was famous torero José Gómez Ortega (Joselito El Gallo) who complained about the necessity of a new “monumental” bullring.

José Espeliú, architect and friend of Joselito El Gallo, began to work on the project of a metal structure with a brick façade in the style of Neo-Mudéjar design. Espeliú died in 1928 before his work was completed, and Manuel Muñoz Monasterio, who designed the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, finished the project. The construction of Las Ventas ended in 1929, and a charity bullfight was held in 1931 to finally inaugurate it.

Unfortunately, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) bullfighting stopped and did not resume until mid-1939, when a bullring was organized to celebrate the end of the war.

 

Madrid bullfighting ring highlights

Its seating capacity of 23,798, makes it the third-largest bullfighting run the world, after bullrings in Mexico (Plaza de Toros Mexico also known as La Monumental that sits 41,262 spectators) and Venezuela (Plaza de Toros Monumental de Valencia that holds 24,708 people), respectively.

The first element you will surely notice is the famous Puerta Grande (Big Gate in English). Going out through this door, especially during the Feria de San Isidro, is every bullfighter’s ambition.

The bullring is decorated with ceramic tiling as well as 52 glazed plaques which hold the shields of every province of Spain, the work of architect Manuel Muñoz Monasterio.

The exterior of Las Ventas bullring features various statues and sculptures dedicated to prominent figures in the world of bullfighting, such as Luis Miguel Dominguín and Antonio Bienvenida.

Curiously, you can also spot a bronze bust of Scottish doctor Alexander Fleming. Thanks to his discovery of the antibiotic penicillin he helped save the lives of many bullfighters who suffered deep wounds after being stabbed by bull horns.

In 1964, several bullfighters decided to collected money to erect a monument in Fleming’s honor. If you approach it, you will see a statue depicting Fleming, and a matador showing his montera to the Fleming as he would do in a brindis to honor him in appreciation of his work.

 

The Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum)

The Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum) offers a comprehensive, interesting collection portraying the history of bullfighting and its relevance for Spanish history and culture.

It is divided into 3 large rooms dedicated to:

  • Las Ventas bullring.
  • Bulls, bullfighters and bullfighting clothing.
  • Bullfighting painting and original posters.

The complete series of engravings “La tauromaquia”, by Spanish painter Francisco de Goya as well as sculptures by Mariano Benlliure are also exhibited.

The museum also contains iconic items.

Among them is the outfit worn by famous bullfighter Manolete when he died in the Linares bullring in 1947, gored by a 495-kilogram bull named Islero.

Another display case shows the uniform that once belonged to Juanita Cruz, a pioneer of female bullfighting, who debuted at Las Ventas on April 6, 1936, just before the Civil War broke out. She was forced into exile because Franco banned women from becoming bullfighters, and died in Madrid in 1981.