One of the world’s most famous bullrings, the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, or “Cathedral of the Winds”, lies within Madrid’s Salamanca district. It still hosts bullfighting events throughout the season from March to October, as well as daily tours to explore its historic architecture and unique atmosphere.
Las Ventas was designed in a Moorish style by José Espeliú, with its seats arranged in tentiers and the capacity for 25,000 spectators. Ceramic representations of Spanish provincial crests, designed by Manuel Munoz Monasterio, adorn its interior patios, with an elaborate Royal Box in its covered grandstand. There are five gates where bulls enter the arena, together with the Puerta Grande which is its most celebrated and where every bullfighter endeavours to exit after the fight. In addition to its use as a bullfighting arena, Las Ventas occasionally hosts concerts, including names like The Beatles, Coldplay and Radiohead. In recent years it has also been set up as the Gran Teatro Ruedo Las Ventas for theatrical performances and is where the Spanish Davis Cup Team played and won against the United States in 2008. Tours of Las Ventas are conducted throughout the year, allowing visitors the unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of some of the world’s most famous matadors, from the Puerta de Cuadrillas where they prepare to the chapel where they pray before fights.
Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is connected by its own subway station at Ventas, with services into Madrid’s city centre to the west and its surrounding districts. Public buses also stop outside the arena on Calle de Alcalá along its southern edge and Avenida de los Toreros to the north.
Work began on Las Ventas in 1922 after the former bullring at Carretera de Aragón could no longer handle the crowds who were gathering to witness this national pastime. The Jardón family donated the land on which it was built to the Madrid Provincial Council in exchange for the right to run the arena for its first fifty years. The first bullfight took place in the new arena on 17 June 1931, only stopping temporarily during the Spanish Civil War.