One of the things that most impresses those who attend a bullfight for the first time is the stage of banderillas ( Tercio de Banderillas). It is brief, since it usually does not last more than five minutes, but very intense, because the man faces the bull without the protection of the cape or the muleta. It can also become an aesthetic experience, if the banderillero does his job well and the bull charges fiercely. However, it is not easy to understand its meaning and sense within the framework of the entire bullfight.

The main objective of the Stage of “Banderillas” is to prepare the bull for the next stage: The Stage of Muleta (Suerte de Muleta). The Stage of Varas is the phase in which the bull is lanced by the Picador in order to weaken it and prepare it for the Stage of Muleta (Suerte de Muleta). After being lanced the bull has lost its initial impetuosity , lowering its head and charging only just when it is provoked by the Matador. And now its aggressiveness must be a little bit awakened in order to equilibrate its strenght and be prepared to the stage of Muleta. The bull feels a sharp pain when the “Banderillas” have pierced its back and it Seems to regain his strength and fierceness


Three bullfighters’ assistants or sometimes the bullfighter him or herself jab the bull’s back with three pairs of “Banderillas”. The bull feels a sharp pain when the “Banderillas” have pierced its back.

In the chapter X of “Death In The Afternoon”, Hemingway wrote about the Stage of “Banderillas”, Providing very interesting data to better understand this important part of the Bullfight.


“Act two is that of the banderillas. These are pairs of sticks about a yard long, seventy centimetres to be exact, with a harpoon-shaped steel point four centimetres long at one end. They are supposed to be placed, two at a time, in the humped muscle at the top of the bull’s neck as he charges the man who holds them. They are designed to complete the work of slowing up the bull and regulating the carriage of his head which has been begun by the picadors: so that his attack will be slower, but surer and better directed. Four pair of banderillas are usually put in. If they are placed by the banderilleros or peones they must be placed, above all other considerations, quickly and in the proper position. If the matador himself places them he may indulge in a preparation which is usually accompanied by music. This is the most picturesque part of the bullfight and the part most spectators care for the most when first seeing fights. The mission of the banderilleros is not only to force the bull by hooking to tire his neck muscles and carry his head lower but also, by placing them at one side or another, to correct a tendency to hook to that side. The entire act of the banderillas should not take more than five minutes. If it is prolonged the bull becomes discomposed and the fight loses the tempo it must keep, and if the bull is an uncertain and dangerous one he has too many opportunities to see and charge men unarmed with any lure, and so develops a tendency to search for the man, the bundle, as the Spanish call him, behind the cloth when the matador comes out for the last act with the sword and muleta.”

Goya And Bullfight

Goya produced many images of bullfights. He painted this canvas in 1824 when he was 78 years old when he was living in France. It is an oil on Canvas, 49,80 x 70,80 cm. The bull is ready for charge against the Picador. In background there is dead horse riminding us that at the time horses faced the bull without protective shells.

In 1816 Francisco de Goya published Tauromaquia, 33 engravings about bullfighting. They represents teh evolution of bullfighting from its origin to the begining of the XIX century and ilustrates huge achievements of famous bullfighters as Pedro Romero, Ceballos and Pepe Illo.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes was born in Fuentetodos, a town in the province of Zaragoza on March 30th 1746. Between 1767 and 1771 travelled to France and Italy and afterwads started to make the first engravings inspirede by some paintings by Velazquez.

In 1785 Goya became director of the de Department of painting at the San Fernando’s Academy and in 1786 official spanish king’s painter.

In 1792 he became deaf and started to have hallucinations and extrange visions. Nonetheless he painted the dome of the real Chapel of San Antonio De La Florida in Madrid and a year after he made de egranving’s collection “Los Caprichos”.

Goya was shocked by the terrible Napoleonic invasion in 1808 by which he was inspired to paint “ Los fusilamientos del 3 de Mayo” and La Carga de los Mamelucos” and to print “Los Desastres De La Guerra”. In 1824 he went to Burdeos and printed the series of 4 lithographies “ Los Toros de Burdeos”. On April 16th 1826 he died in Burdeos at the age of 82

The Bullfighting Museum Madrid

The Bullfighting Museum was opened in 1951 and is located in Las Ventas Bullring, next to the Horses Courtyard ( Patio de caballos). The opening hours are From March to October , Monday to Sunday 10 to 18 hours, but the days on which the bullfight is held only 10 to 16 hours; From November to February Monday to Sunday , 10 to 18 hours. The visit is free.

Among the interesting things you can see we would highlight the collection of prints echted in aquatint by Francisco de Goya, wherein are represented various bullfihts “Suertes” and Passes performed at the arenas; the bronze sculpture of Juan Belmonte by Luis Sanguino; the big portrait of Manolete by Espinosa; the color prints by José Vallejo y Galeazo; the engravings by unkown autor: “La Cogida Mortal De Pepe –Illo” and “La Cogida Mortal De Antonio Romero” that represent the death of two famous bullfighters; Four color echtings by known artist about the four Suertes of Bullfighting; the heads of mythical bulls


El Museo Taurino de Madrid fue inaugurado en 1951 y está ubicado en la Plaza de Las Ventas cerca del Patio de Caballos. El horario de visita es de Marzo a Octubre, de lunes a domingo de 10 a 18 horas, pero los días en que se celebra un festejo el horario se reduce de 10 a 16 horas; de Noviembre a Febrero el horario es de lunes a domingo de 10 a 18 horas.

Entre las múltiples cosas interesantes que podemos ver en su interior, destacaría la colección de aguatintas realizadas por Francisco de Goya que representan distintas suertes del toreo realizadas en los ruedos; la escultura de bronce de Juan Belmonte, obra de Luis Sanguino; el gran retrato de Manolete por Espinosa; los grabados en color de José Vallejo y Galeazo; los aguafuertes anónimos : “La Cogida Mortal De Pepe-Illo” y “La Cogida Mortal De Antonio Romero” que representan la muerte de dos famosos toreros en el ruedo; cuatro aguafuertes en color anónimos sobre las cuatro Suertes del toreo y las cabezas disecadas de algunos toros míticos.