Las Ventas is the most popular and most famous bull-ring in Spain, and hosts some of the country's most important fights. The 23,800-capacity arena was built between 1922 and 1929 at a time when bull-fighting was enjoying an enormous surge in popularity. Although the role of this sport in the modern world is currently a much-debated topic in Spain, fights go on as usual at Las Ventas.
The architect José Espeliú designed Las Ventas in the so-called neo-Mudéjar style which developed in the late 1800s and was heavily influenced by Moorish architecture. It’s worth visiting the ring just to take a walk around and admire the iconic horse-shoe arcades, the ceramic tiles displaying coats of arms from all over Spain, and the building's wonderfully ornate façade.
Bull-fights take place on Sundays (and only during the fighting season) but guided tours of the arena run daily. You have the option of following a guide around or of simply picking up an audio guide and browsing in your own time. The tour will take you through the ring, which measures 60 metres across, before you’re taken backstage into the Patio de Cuadrillas where fighters wait in nervous anticipation before they step out into the ring. You'll also be taken to the Puerta Grande, the exit by which matadors leave the ring if they win their fight.
The bull-fighting season runs from March to October so those who want to see a fight should be able to do so almost every Sunday evening during this period. Be sure to book in advance, as tickets can sell out fast. Bookings can be made online or at the booking office on site. A popular time to go is during the San Isidro festival, which runs from mid-May to early June. This is when some of the year's major fights take place.
The ring is served by Ventas and El Carmen metro stations. There is a fee for the guided tours which includes hire of an audio guide.
22 Dec. - 23 Dec.
19 Dec. - 20 Dec.
7 Jan. - 8 Jan.
12 Jan. - 13 Jan.
5 Jan. - 6 Jan.
17 Dec. - 18 Dec.