STATISTICS released by the Junta have revealed that Spain’s emblematic but highly controversial sport is alive and well in Andalucia. 

There were 682 bullfighting events held in the community in 2023, up 17 from the previous year. 

Of those, 225 were held in the Jaen province, 104 in Cadiz, 96 in Huelva, 78 in Granada, 71 in Sevilla, and 59 in Cordoba. 

Throughout Andalucia, most bullfights took place during the summer months, with 227 in August, 139 in September, and 59 in July.

“Bullfighting is part of the historical and cultural heritage of Andalusia,” the report reads. 

“It is an activity enormously rooted in the entire Andalusian geography.”

bullfight
Andalucia’s Jaen province held the region’s most bullfighting events in 2023, with a total of 682.

The city of Jaen holds a rich bullfighting tradition, as well as multiple bullfighting schools that hold competitions, which may help explain bullfighting’s popularity in the province of 619,000. 

Each of Jaen’s towns hold its own unique bullfighting events spread throughout the year, though most are held during the bullfighting season between March and October. 

Many of Jaen’s bull-related events do not involve bullrings or the killing of the animals. 

The town of Iznatoraf, for example, hosts a nocturnal running of the bulls through its streets during the first week of September — an event which has garnered a hazardous reputation in recent years due to injuries. 

The Jaen province has 10 bullrings total, and has been called the “bull’s paradise” for its abundant pastures dedicated to the free-range breeding of the fierce Spanish fighting bull, or Toro Bravo. 

And the region’s government has made its bullfighting culture a major part of its tourism campaign, going so far as to make it a central focus of its 2023 International Tourism Fair presentation in Madrid. 

Bullfighting — which traditionally ends with the death of the bull — is banned in a number of European countries, including Denmark, Italy and the UK, though it remains popular in Latin America and legal throughout Spain. 

However, with animal rights concerns and its links to nationalism present in the Spanish cultural consciousness, bullfighting has seen a steady decline in popularity since the turn of the century, with the number of bullfights decreasing by more than 57% between 2007 and 2022. 

Bullfighting’s enduring cultural significance has proven controversial in Spain, with critics and supporters of the practice typically falling on either side of the political spectrum. 

Since the fall of Franco, the sport has maintained an association with fascism and right wing political causes, while critics are commonly associated with left-wing animal rights groups. 

The Partido Popular — Spain’s center-right party, which currently controls Andalucia — has promised to “defend and promote” bullfighting amidst attacks from the left. 

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