Catalonia, Spain, September 2011. The morning breaks quietly, the sun rising from the Mediterranean like a god and slowly heating the sprawling metropolis; at noon it’s almost painfully bright. By evening, though, the city has cooled to comfortable temperature – a relief, as our tickets are for the sol side of the Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona: the Monumental Bull Ring of Barcelona.
We arrive early, unsure what to expect. Four oval domes tiled in white and blue sit sentinel on the Monumental’s upper perimeter, watching over thousands of well-dressed ticket holders milling about: politicians, personalities from the Catalan bourgeoisie, and lifelong fans who can’t believe this day has come.
Everything changed in June 2010, when Catalonia’s parliament responded to a petition from 180,000 citizens and voted to abolish las corridas de toros – bullfighting – on the grounds of animal cruelty. The ban (Spain’s second, and the first on the mainland) will formally come into effect on 1 January 2012, but today is the end of the season; the Monumental won’t see another.
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