Tradition, Art & Culture


The origins of Man's relationship with the bull are lost in the dust of history. These are evidences of several manifestations of rock art from the Upper Paleolithic, such as those existing in Portugal - Foz Côa (18,000-15,000 BC) and France - Lascaux (15,000-13,000 BC), which express the admiration and veneration of Man By the bull.
The bull (more concretely his ancestor Auroque) has always been seen as a mystical animal, the target of religious cults, a symbol of fertility and virility. In this way, the confrontation of the bull with the Man was a way of taking possession of these qualities. This confrontation manifested itself in the most diverse Mediterranean and Middle East societies, as we can see in the Epic of Gilgamesh - Mesopotamia, 2nd millennium BC - in the frescoes of the palace of Knossos - in Crete (Greece), Minoan civilization - in the myths of Greek antiquity Such as the Minotaur and the Rapture of Europe, which gave its name to the European continent. This influence remains to this day on the art and culture of Western civilization.
Bullfighting results from these influences. From the hunting and preparation of Man and horses to war, bullfights were celebrated to mark important moments in Portuguese society, such as the celebration of royal marriages and coronations, birth of princes, preparations for battles, religious ceremonies , Solidarity actions, honors to heads and dignitaries of States visiting Portugal, among others.


Tauramaquia or, in one of its main expressions, bullfighting or bullfight, is a traditional spectacle that consists of the art of dealing wild bulls, both on foot and on horseback. The earliest records of this culture date back to the twelfth century, and its strongest expression has always been in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) although it is also very common in southern France and in several Latin American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Costa Rica, as well as China, the Philippines and the United States.

In a broad sense, bullfighting also includes all the previous development of the show, from the creation of the bull, the making of the costumes of the participants, in addition to the design and publication of the bullfighting poster and other artistic or advertising manifestations, which vary according to The countries and regions where bullfighting integrates the national or regional culture.



Why bullfighting is culture?

UNESCO, in the 1982 declaration in Mexico City, presented its definition of culture:

"In its broadest sense, culture can be considered as the set of distinctive, spiritual and material marks, intellectual and affective, that characterize a society or a social group. In this sense, culture comprises besides arts and letters, modes of Life, fundamental human rights, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

The Bullfights fit perfectly into this definition of UNESCO. The bullfights are a hallmark of Portuguese culture, with the most diverse intellectual and affective brands in Portuguese society, especially strong in various regions and social groups, being a performative art, which contains in itself a system of values, traditions and beliefs that promote Human excellence and humanism.

In addition there is a legal dimension that attests to the cultural nature of bullfighting.

In the preamble to Decree-Law no. 89/2014 of 11 June (which is very recent), the state expressly states that "bullfighting is, in its various manifestations, an integral part of the patrimony of Portuguese popular culture. Expressions, social practices, festive events and rituals that make up bullfighting, the importance of the spectacles in bullrings is translated into the significant number of spectators who attend this type of spectacle ".

Decree-Law No 23/2014, which establishes the legal framework for artistic performances, states in Article 2 (2) that bullfighting is an artistic activity.

In 2010, the Tauromachy Section was created, a specialized section within the National Council of Culture. It is the responsibility of the Tauromachy Section to support the Government member responsible for culture in the development of the cultural policy guidelines for the bullfighting sector.

The Portuguese legislative framework leaves no room for doubt that bullfights, in fact and legally, are an integral part of Portuguese cultural heritage.

Ernest Hemingway

(n.1899 – m.1961)

"Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in constant danger, and in which the beauty of the show depends on the honor of the bullfighter."


Frederico García Lorca
(n.1898 – m.1936)

"Bullfighting is the most cultured party in the world."


António Lobo Antunes

"Bullfighters are like poets."