Bye Bye to the bullfight in Barcelona?

Spain’s avant-garde second city Barcelona is a hugely popular tourist destination, trendy for many reasons, but a trip to the Monumental Bull Ring is unlikely to be high on your list of must-dos. Indeed, even locally support for the ‘torros’ has been dwindling with a growing awareness of animal rights amongst the younger generation.

The last ‘corrida’ however, drew a crowd of 20,000 spectators with tickets selling out at record speed, reports the BBC. So why were people paying up to five times their original value on the black market to go to the bulls?

Firstly, this is the region’s last fight before a ban, voted by the regional parliament, comes into effect in Catalonia as of the 1st of January 2012, and as such is an historic event. Secondly, Spain's top three matadors were performing, including legendary Jose Tomas, and finally this has become more than just an animal rights issue.

In part it’s about maintaining an age-old tradition which dates back 4000 years, considered by supporters to be an art form and a pillar of Spanish culture. They are prepared to challenge the ban in Spain's high court.

But it’s also about Catalan Nationalism, with the nationalists trying to distinguish Catalonia from the rest of Spain. The regional parliament has failed to ban the equally cruel ‘correbou’ festival where bulls run through the streets with their horns alight, but then this is a Catalan tradition.

The saga is set to continue, but for the moment at least, if you’re heading for Barcelona, you may just have to concentrate on its flamboyant architecture, fabulous galleries and museums and top notch restaurants!

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