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Posted by Becky Byler in Travel Log.
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Inside Evora's Famous Bullfighting Ring

My short stay in Portugal is officially complete: I attended a bullfight yesterday! It was perhaps one of the most amazing things to happen to me this trip, despite the fact that I was so nervous about attending because of all the blood I knew would be present. Something about harming innocent animals for sport just isn’t that attractive to me; however, the bullfight was not what I was expecting. Apparently, Portuguese and Spanish bullfights are completely different from each other, which made me actually enjoy the experience so much more! I ended up sitting next to a friendly Portuguese man who gave me a running commentary of what exactly was going on during the fight, and I felt very lucky to have had such a good guide to bullfighting!

The first difference between the two countries’ fights is how the bull and the fighter interact: in Spain, a matador fights on foot, while, in Portugal, a horseman fights the bull. This changes the type of interaction between the bull and fighter, and, in my opinion, leads to a less graphic fight. Also, because the horseman must also honor the bull throughout the entire fight, he is not just evaluated on his bravery, but also his ability to showcase the bull and his horse. As such, there are only a limited number of small javelins that are put into the bull’s back, usually between 4-6, and the point of this first phase is for the horsemen to exhibit their skill in the arena without mortally wounding the bull or causing it dishonor. (more…)