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 Bullfighting the End of a Tradition

Arnie Greenberg

As of January 2012 bullfighting will be banned in the Catalonian section of Spain. This is the north-eastern region known as Catalonia. To bullfighting aficionados this may be a hard pillow to swallow, but to Animal Rights Activists and true Catalonians, this is the only way to go. There is a great difference between Spain and Catalonia and over the years a Catalonian break away was not out of the question.

Ancient Barcelona

Of course there are many bull rings in Spain and some of them operate to capacity crowds. The original bullring at  Ronda still boasts statues and popular tours to an old tradition. But for the great Plaza de Toros Monumental in Barcelona the curtain is finally coming down. Animal Rights opposes the ‘sport’ and Catalonians oppose it as they oppose the rest of Spain. Even the language is different and Catalonians hardly want to be called Spaniards.

For me, it started with Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and the morning dashes along the streets by men being chased by bulls. I grew up thinking of it as a sport and as a show of courage. I sat wide eyed in Madrid and watched the cocky matadors arch their backs and urge the gigantic bull to charge. He dared the bulls as a show of courage  and stood his ground while the bull’s horns missed his body by centimetres. The cape in the matador’s hands would almost mesmerize the unknowing bull. It was the cape or muleta the bull charged while the matador waited until   the bull charge into a pointed sword for the last time. Yes, in his books, Hem saw it as bravery or bravado. But the bull with the rounded off horns was at a great disadvantage even with his size.

Later Hem wrote Death in the Afternoon. This was not a novel but a book about the art of raising bulls to fight and then the craft of the battle or coridas. He explained the whole idea of raising bulls to fight and selecting them by size and eagerness to fight. These bulls, he explained, were facing a standing man for the first time. With men inserting picks in their napes to lower the magnificent heads, they were putting the man at a further advantage.

It was a one-sided contest and the bull would not leave the arena alive unless the President of the bullring deemed that it was brave enough to leave alive. This rarely happened. Hemingway was obsessed with violent death.

So I read and I attended. I even went to a bullring in Portugal where the bull was taunted, toyed with and mesmerised the monstrous creature. I saw fights in Mexico too, where the bull was fought by a man or woman on horseback. Then as years went by and the animal rights activists showed their colors, I began to think twice about this so called ‘sport’. The last time I attended a bullring was about ten years ago when I took a group of visitors to  the Barcelona “Plaza”. It was hardy crowded. It was bloody and distasteful. I swore never to go again. Now, the people   of Barcelona and all Catalonia agree. After all these years, this activity will cease at least in this area. It’s a beginning  and it’s a statement. I say Bravo!!! Well done!

Catalonia is a beautiful area with mountains flowing to the ea. Barcelona in one my three top cities in the world. There is so much to see there that hopefully, one will soon forget that bullfighting was part of their tradition.

Take for example the long peaceful old riverbed that winds to the seaport. The Ramblas as it is called offers bird and flower sales, art dealers, food sales, magazines and newspapers and a chance to walk under beautiful shade trees without worrying about cars. On the sides are restaurants, fashionable shops and hotels you will not forget.


The work of Gaudi is visible throughout the city and one cannot visit Barcelona without seeing Park Guell or the Sagrida Familia. This church is in the throes of being completer. It started in the 1890’s

Geuel’s Sagrada Familia

The great music hall, the opera and the Cataluña Square offer tourists a delectable feast on the eyes and place to show t

heir children the city of their prod heritage. And speaking of feasts one must visit Picassos favorite El Quatro Gats (4 Cats) for local food worth waiting for. He too was interested in bulls but Picasso was a southern Spaniard   and from Malaga, not Barcelona.The People’s Political Party, Catalonians in general and Animal Rights followers have won the struggle. For them, enjoyment comes from Football, not butchery.

 If I have piqued your interest in Barcelona, get in touch with a young man named Benjamin Serio, the International Detective Coordinator. He can show you around Barcelona on a theme. It’s almost a contest. Look him up at

This is a tour with a difference…

The 4 Cats is at Montsio 3bis

Phome:  34 93 302 49  for reservations


You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at


Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to: or contact him directly at

(More about the writer.)


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