Visit the Plaza de Toros Santamaria Bullfighting Stadium
While visiting Bogota, you may want to check out the cities bull fighting stadium.
Excerpt from the book Soul Searching in South America from the Teresa the Traveler Series
What kind of Bull is this?
From the viewpoint I spotted the stadium where Bogotá’s bullfights take place and, in a combination of Pictionary and Charades, managed to ask my Spanish speaking guide to take me there. Located in the Macarena district, the Plaza de Toros Santamaria was opened to the public in February 1931 and has since hosted many of the world’s top bullfighters. Its short season runs from mid January to the end of February.
A traditional spectacle in such countries as Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador and in Central America, this blood sport is considered a fine art by its followers. The largest bullfighting venue (seating 48,000 spectators) is the Plaza de toros Mexico in Mexico City while the oldest is the La Maestranza in Sevilla Spain which hosted its first bull fight in 1765.
In Spanish style bullfighting, the style that takes place in Colombia, three matadors, with the assistance of two picadors, three banderilleros and a mozo de espadas, each fight two bulls. Accompanied by band music, participants parade into the stadium, wearing 18th century inspired Andalusian clothing, and salute the presiding dignitary. The highly ritualized event takes place in three stages called tercious the start of which is announced by a bugle call.
The Lancing – During the first stage, the bull enters the ring and the matador performs a series of passes using a magenta and gold cape in order to observe the bulls behaviour and ferocity. Next a picador on horseback enters the arena and stabs the bull in the neck. The horse is covered with a padding to protect it from the bull’s horns, however prior to 1930 this was not the case and the horse was usually disembowelled at this stage.
The Third of Banderillas
– During the second stage, the three banderillas each attempt to insert two sharp barbed sticks or banderillas into the bull’s shoulders. This act angers and invigorates the bull and further weakens it.
The Third of Death
– During the third stage the matador enters the ring alone with a small red cape and a sword. Contrary to popular belief, the color red does not anger the colorblind bulls. Using the cape to attract the bull in a series of passes, the matador both wears the bull out and performs for the crowd. In order to demonstrate his domination over the beast he may hold the cape especially close to his body. During the final kill, the matador attempts to manoeuvre the bull into a
position where he can stab it between the shoulder blades and through the heart in an act called an estocada.
If the matador has performed exceptionally well the crowd will wave white handkerchiefs petitioning the president to award him an ear of the bull. In the rare occasion that the crowd and matador believe the bull has put on a brave fight, they may even petition to spare his life and return to the ranch to live out his life as a stud bull.
The stadium was closed when we arrived but the caretakers were kind enough to let us in to view it. Workers were cleaning up the sandy ring in the center where small pools of blood were all that remained of the last bull to meet its makers for the entertainment of the blood thirsty crowd.
I don’t know that I could handle seeing an actual bullfight. It seems like such a cruel way to kill an animal. In fact, a number of animal rights activists claim the bull suffers a slow and tortuous death and have called for an end to the spectacle. In 1899 Argentina banned bullfighting and in 1912 it was abolished by Uruguay but despite anti-bullfighting demonstrations throughout the world the tradition continues in many countries to this day.