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Bullfights in Tijuana

The Bullfight season generally begins in early to late spring such as April and concludes in early autumn in October. The first half of the bullfights are performed at the Downtown Bullring and the other half at the Bullring by the Sea at Playas de Tijuana ( Tijuana has only two bullrings). Each bullring has its own history and distinctive features which praise the bullfighter, the bulls and its culture. A usual fight has three matadors (bullfighters) with two bulls per matador. Each bullfight can last up to three hours. Most begin at 4:00 PM and conclude by 6: 30 PM PST. Please be prepared to bring a light jacket.

The beautiful history & architecture of the two Tijuana bullrings is like no other in the world. The first and the oldest bullring in the city is named El Toreo de Tijuana or in English The Tijuana Bullring. It is located along the oldest road of the city, Agua Caliente and located as a strategic point for the city. It was first built during the early 1920’s as a symbol of Tijuana's growing tourism during the American Prohibition era. The bullring bought a sense of pride to Tijuana. It is made of steel and houses about 30,000.

The second bullring is named the Bullring by the Sea. It is located adjacent to Tijuana's Playa or Beach and also to the USA fenced border walls. The Bullring by the Sea is a stunning example of Post Modern Classical Architecture. If you go, please take a chance to sit at its courtyard and admire the stunning beauty building.

Plaza de Toros Monumental

Only a few steps from the Tijuana beaches and 30 meters form the U.S. and Mexico borderline, in 1960, the visionary, Major J. Salvador Lopez-Hurtado ordered the construction of the great Plaza Monumental de las Playas de Tijuana. The construction started immediately and soon after 116 consecutive days of construction (record time), the Monumental de las Playas was ready for its ignauration. Being the second largest bullring in Mexico, on June 26, 1960 the great maestro Don Rodolfo Gaona cut the symbolic ribbon.

The bullring of "The Beaches" was built in an area of 90,000 square meters, cratered 5 meters below ground level and having a capacity for 21,621 spectators comfortably seated. With a ring that measures 40 meters in diameter, it has two series of ticket windows, infirmary, butchering hall, warehouses, five corrals, a holding pen, a livestock weighing room and 40 private ringside boxes for 6 persons each. The ring has a special anti-flooding system, stadium lights, 2 restaurants and bars, a sold out crowd can empty the bullring in approximately 6 minutes and it has a parking lot for 3000 cars parked in orderly fashion. A great sculpture were maestro Humberto Peraza inmotalizes Maestro Rodolfo Gaona and one of his well-known sculptures of the "Encierro."

World renowned bullfighters have made their appearances at the bullring by "The Beaches" like: Maestro Paco Camino, Manuel Benitez "El Cordobes", Maestro Antonio Ordoñez, Julian Lopez "El Juli", Alfredo Leal, Manolo Martinez, Curro Rivera, Eloy Cavazos, Miguel Espinosa "Armillita" and Eulalio Lopez "Zotoluco" to name a few. For its great capacity, installations and comfotability, the "seaside" bullring has been the scene for great boxing matches, cultural and sporting events that have benefited the Tijuana community greatly. Located 6 miles west of downtown Tijuana off the Via Rapida Highway 1D. Phone 011 52 (664) 680-1808.

El Toreo de Tijuana

El Toreo de Tijuana, in it's original design and structure of wood first opened July 3, 1938 by its then owner, Don Claudio Bress and has long since been admired by Mexican and foreign visitors alike. For the inauguration, El Toreo de Tijuana gave a first hand look and hand to hand feeling for personalities of the time, such as Fermín Espinosa “Armillita” and the unforgettable Matador Alberto Balderas.

In 1957 the structure was changed to that of steel as we see today, with a capacity for 14,000 people by leaders of the times such as Enrique Jorda y Don Alfonso L. Bress, and was inaugurated on May 19, 1957, with Matadors El Hijo de “El Tigre de Guanajuato” Juan Silveti, Miguel Ortas “El León Madrileño” and the “resurected of Sevilla” Miguel Ángel Bernardo, leading the Bulls of the Point. The Toreo de Tijuana, is now actually property of “Espectáculos Taurinos de México, ” starts it season the last Sudnay of April or the first Sunday of May each year.

Located just 2 miles east of downtown Tijuana on Boulevard Agua Caliente. Phone 011-52 (664) 686-1510.

Article by Stephanie Dodaro --TIJUANA

You needn't travel all the way to Spain to see a world class bullfight; instead, take a trip to Tijuana. El Toreo de Tijuana, near downtown, generally hosts bullfights, or corridas, along with Plaza Monumental de Playas on the beach. (Keep in mind that dates, locations, and cards are all subject to change. Although the schedule is released in April, it's wise to keep checking the websites for updates.) If you need site information in English, the Club Taurino de Chula Vista posts the season schedule as well as helpful tips about visiting Tijuana.

The box office opens in the morning. Try to attend a corrida featuring Eloy Cavazos, the "Little Giant of Monterrey," a master torero who has been fighting bulls since 1966, Eulalio Lopez "El Zotoluco," who makes beautiful, daring passes with the cape, or the daredevil Rafael Ortega. Prices start around $180 for a palco, or box seat, in the sun. Palcos in the sombra, or shade, go for over $200. Shell out the cash to sit in a palco at least once: you can eavesdrop on the torero's cuadrilla, or team, as they smoke between fights behind the safety of the barrier. Count every reflective bead on their trajes de luces, suits of lights. Marvel at how tight their suits fit their bodies, and how little the suits have changed since Goya painted Suerte de Varas in 1824. And if the bull jumps the barrera, which occasionally happens, you'll have a very close encounter--and one hell of a story. Seats in the stands range from pat-the-bull's-head close, at approximately $70, to nosebleed, at $16. As with the palcos, the more expensive seats are in the shade.

At the gate, a young man will offer all females a small bunch of red carnations to throw at the feet of a worthy torero later. Make your way to your seats amidst the crowd of middle- and lower-middle class Mexicans, handfuls of Americans, and Tijuana's elite--perhaps the largest contingent. Watch the socialites clutch their Prada purses and teeter on their heels as they pick their way over the dirt and uneven concrete. And be sure to stop at the little cinderblock chapel, where the toreros pray before entering the ring.

When the bulls finally race out of the chute, they tear around the perimeter of the circular ring, stopping only to smash their horns into the barrier. The bigger ones, over 1,000 pounds, are especially fearsome; upon seeing them, you really understand that the torero's survival is not a foregone conclusion. The torero and his cuadrilla wave their bright pink and yellowcapes as the bull storms by. Occasionally, a torero will stand right next to the barrera and pass the bull on his opposite side. Others may pass the bull while kneeling. These pases might make your heart stop. But if the bullfighter does not pass the bull close to his body, it's a hollow gesture--his mission is to overcome his fear of death, which means coming as close to the charging bull, and its horns, as possible.

Eventually, the bull will charge the center of the ring. The toreros and his cuadrilla take turns making pases. Then the banderilleros take runs at the bull, reaching over his horns to sink banderillas (short barbed spears) into his hump, which forces the bull to lower his head. When it's time for the kill, the torero will have an easier time driving the sword over the horns and into the bull's body.

Next, the picadors come out on horseback, each carrying a lance. This is an unpopular part of the corrida and the crowd always greets the picadors with a chorus of boos. They each try to draw the bull out and one will drive his lance into the bull's hump. It's not a fair fight, as the picador is at relatively small risk of injury. If the torero is worth his salt, he will only allow one or two light picks before he calls the picador off.

In the final act, the torero faces the bull one-on-one with the muleta, the red cape, draped over his sword. It is in the faena, the series of final pases, that the torero really earns his reward. However, if he extends the muleta too far from his body, it doesn't matter if his feet are planted squarely on the ground and that he doesn't flinch--he's cheating. Others become possessed by the exhilaration of the fight, lose focus, and perform reckless pases--and some get gored. A few will make brilliant pases and have the patience to wait for the right moment to drive the sword into the bull's back, killing him on the first attempt.

The autoridad, who sits high up in the stands, decides the torero's reward: one ear for a good fight, two ears for an excellent fight, and two ears and a tail for an extraordinary one. On rarer occasions, when a bull shows exceptional bravery and resilience, the crowd will scream "Toro! Toro!" If the autoridad agrees, he will grant the bull an indulto, a pardon. Hemingway would approve.

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