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Málaga's bullring lies in the heart of the city, 2015
Façade of the oldest bullring in Spain, La Maestranza, in Seville
The Plaza México situated in Mexico City, is the world's largest bullring
Exterior facade of the arena in Nîmes, a converted Roman amphitheatre
Plaza de Toros de Chinchón

A bullring is an arena where bullfighting is performed. Bullrings are often associated with the Iberian Peninsula, but they can also be found through Iberian America and in a few Spanish and Portuguese ex-colonies in Africa. Bullrings are often historic and culturally significant centres that bear many structural similarities to the Roman amphitheatre.

Common structure[edit]

The classic bullring is an enclosed, roughly circular amphitheatre with tiered rows of stands that surround an open central space. The open space forms the arena or ruedo, a field of densely packed crushed rock (albero) that is the stage for the bullfight. Also on the ground level, the central arena is surrounded by a staging area where the bullfighters prepare and take refuge, called the callejón (alley). The callejón is separated from the arena by a wall or other structure, usually made of wood and roughly 140 cm high. The partition wall has doors for the entrance and exit of the bull (puerta de los toriles) and human participants (puerta de cuadrilla), although the form, number, and placement of these doors will vary from one bullring to another. In regular places, the wall is pushed outwards leaving splits (burladero, from burlar: to evade, to dodge) that allow the bullfighters to go in the arena and to take refuge but are too narrow for the bull. Nevertheless, on rare occasions the bull jumps the wall causing havoc in the corridor. The walls also have a type of stirrup or foothold that aids in crossing over to the central arena, and sometimes stirrups on the arena side as well; these are used mostly by event staff if they need to intervene quickly in the case of an emergency. The arena is surrounded by climbing rows of seats. The seats are priced differently according to the position of the sun during the show, normally in the afternoon. The hot sol, "sun", is cheaper than the fresher sombra, "shade".

Architectural origins[edit]

Bullrings evolved as specialized sporting arenas hand-in-hand with the sport that demanded them. Many of the ancient Roman amphitheatres had characteristics that can be seen in the bullrings of today (in fact the ring in Nîmes, France, is a Roman artifact,[1] though it is more elliptical than the usual plaza), and the origin of bullfighting is very closely related to certain Roman traditions;[citation needed] in the formative years of the sport on the Iberian Peninsula, those Roman enclosures were not commonly utilised for bullfighting events. Back when bullfighting festivals were conducted principally on horseback, the spectacle was a more public affair that took place in the city's open plaza area. It was only later, when bullfights were conducted principally by men on foot, that the public needed a structure to house them appropriately. Not only did the crowd need special seating to view the spectacle, they also needed a structure to contain the general disorder that reigned at festivals during the heyday of such legendary figures as Costillares, Pedro Romero, and Pepe-Hillo.

In these early days, the circular form was not to be taken for granted. When La Maestranza bullring in Seville was authorized for construction in 1730 specifically to house bullfights, the original plans called for a rectangular arena for the first three years, only later to be changed to a circular form that avoided the cornering of the action and put all viewers at the same approximate distance, the same reason for the elliptical form of amphitheatres. Another circular plaza was begun in Ronda in 1754, and it featured its first bullfights in 1782.

In the change from the 19th to the 20th century, the Neo-Mudéjar style became in vogue for plazas, involving decoration in visible brickwork.

Since the 1990s, new construction technology allows some rings to be covered permanently or temporarily.

Alternative uses[edit]

The primary purpose of the ring is bullfighting, but it is usually limited to some festival weeks in the year. In other times, it may be used as a concert venue as in the Rock en el ruedo tour of Miguel Ríos or the live record Diamonds & Rust in the Bullring, featuring a Joan Baez concert in the Bilbao plaza.

Before the diffusion of modern sports premises, bullrings were used in the Basque Country for traditional sports similar to challenges of resistance running. The public made bets on the number of laps the runner could make. No bulls were involved.

After the battle of Badajoz (1936) of the Spanish Civil War, the Badajoz ring was used as a confinement camp for supporters of the republic and many thousands were executed there by the Nationalist forces who had just occupied the town.

Most indoor bullrings, especially in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, in addition to being used for concerts, have also been used for indoor sports such as basketball, ice hockey, boxing and lucha libre.

Bullrings of the world[edit]

The most famous bullrings in the world are Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid (Spain), widely regarded as the most prestigious one, La Maestranza in Seville (Spain), Campo Pequeno in Lisbon (Portugal) and Plaza de Toros México in Mexico City.[citation needed]



Villages round the Camargue, such as Rodilhan in the Gard, who also practise 'mise à mort' - killing the bull.


Major venues in Spain[edit]
Local venues in Spain[edit]


Lisbon (Portugal) bullring, Campo Pequeno






Latin America[edit]






The Plaza de toros de Acho, in Lima, the first bullring out of peninsular Spain.
  • Plaza de toros de Acho, Lima. 2nd oldest. 30 January 1766.
  • Plaza de Toros Sol y Sombra, Lima
  • Plaza de Toros de la Provincia de Cutervo, Cajamarca
  • Plaza de Toros "El Vizcaíno", Cajamarca
  • Plaza de Toros de Trujillo "El Coliseo", Trujillo
  • Plaza de Toros de El Coliseo, Huancayo
  • Plaza de Toros de Sicaya, Huancayo
  • Plaza de Toros de la Unión, Huánuco
  • Plaza de Toros de Guadalupe, Ica
  • Plaza de Toros de Puquío, Ayacucho.



Bullrings by capacity[edit]

Bullring Location Capacity
Plaza de toros México Mexico City, Mexico 41,262
Plaza de toros Monumental de Valencia Valencia, Venezuela 24,708
Las Ventas Madrid, Spain 23,798
Bullring by the Sea Tijuana, Mexico 21,621
Plaza de Toros de Pamplona Pamplona, Spain 19,720
Plaza Nuevo Progreso Guadalajara, Mexico 16,561
Plaza de toros Monumental de Aguascalientes Aguascalientes, Mexico 16,000
Plaza Monumental Román Eduardo Sandia Mérida, Venezuela 16,000
Plaza de toros Monumental de Maracaibo Maracaibo, Venezuela 15,000
Plaza de toros de La Merced Huelva, Spain 15,000
Plaza de toros de Murcia Murcia, Spain 15,000
Plaza Monumental de toros de Pueblo Nuevo San Cristóbal, Venezuela 15,000
Plaza de toros de Vista Alegre Bilbao, Spain 14,781
Plaza de toros Cañaveralejo Cali, Colombia 14,368
Plaza de toros de Granada Granada, Spain 14,000
Plaza de toros de los Califas Córdoba, Spain 14,000
Plaza de toros de Acho Lima, Peru 13,700
Plaça de bous de València Valencia, Spain 12,000
Plaza de toros de Albacete Albacete, Spain 12,000
Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla Seville, Spain 12,000
Plaza de toros de La Ribera Logroño, Spain 11,046
Plaza de toros Calafia Mexicali, Mexico 11,000
Plaza de toros de Valladolid Valladolid, Spain 11,000
Plaza de toros de Las Palomas Algeciras, Spain 11,000
Plaza de toros La Glorieta Salamanca, Spain 10,858
Plaza de toros de Jaén Jaén, Spain 10,500
Plaza de Toros de Zaragoza Zaragoza, Spain 10,072
Plaza de toros de Santander Santander, Spain 10,000
Plaza de toros de Palencia Palencia, Spain 10,000
Plaza de toros de Almería Almería, Spain 10,000


  1. ^ "arenes-nimes.com". Nimes la Romaine.

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