Bullfight in Santander

July 25, 2006 By: erik Category: Bulls, Photos, Spain, Videos 5,978 views

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Yesterday we went to a bullfight in Santander. Our favorite bullfighter, El Fandi, was fighting. We fell in love with his performance in León last year, and we’ve been looking forward to seeing him again. As usual, three bullfighters killed six bulls. The bullfighters were: Julián Lopez (“El Juli”), David Fandila (“El Fandi”), and Miguel íngel Perera.

Unfortunately, the bulls make up at least 40% of the quality of a bullfight, and these bulls were of low caliber. They were sluggish and non-engaging. El Fandi had a hard time getting his bulls to move at all.

Here come a lot of pictures…

Warning – The pictures below contain bleeding and dying animals. Consider yourself warned.


Marce, Marga, and I bought proper bullfighting spectator straw hats before entering the bullring.


Looking good.


I bought Marga her Spanish fan at the market the day before.


Now we’re ready!


One of El Juli’s assistants inserts some banderillas (literally: “little flags”). These have barbed arrowheads and are what you see hanging from the bulls shoulders later.


Another pair. That’s El Juli in the green in the background. Many bullfighters let their assistants (their “cuadrilla”) do the banderillas. They are sort of bullfighting apprentices.


El Fandi’s assistants control the bull when it’s first released.




El Fandi sweeps his cape around. When the bull is fresh and uninjured, they use larger pink and yellow capes. Later, when the bull is tired and injured, they switch to the red capes and swords.


El Fandi does his own banderillas.


The perfect placement of the banderillas is important, and the crowd is tough to please.

It’s important to run sideways when inserting the banderillas.


These “little flags” seem rather Portuguese.


“Olé!” shouts the crowd.



Sometimes, the bullfighters will remove their hat and throw it to the ground. When it lands with the open part up, it’s supposedly bad luck. El Fandi sure had bad luck.


Good bullfighting is really very similar to a dance.

El Fandi has bad luck inserting his sword. He has to wait until the bull has both front feet even with each other.


That’s not ketchup.


El Fandi goes in for the kill.

They don’t wait long at all to put the bull out of its misery with a short sword that severs the bull’s spinal cord, resulting in instant death.


The bullring workers get ready to hook the dead bull up the the harness to drag it out of the ring.





The first attack against the bull is made by horseback. The horses are blindfolded so they don’t freak out, and they wear armor to protect them from the horns. Still, I feel kind of sorry for the horses. Sometimes, although it’s rare, they do get injured.


This bull had a lame hind leg, and the crowd shouted for it to be spared. Eventually, the guy in charge of bovine control brought in some trained cattle to help usher it out of the ring.



Ferera fights with the replacement bull.



This video shows El Juli from the insertion of the full sword up, through the time waiting to see if the bull will die, to the final spinal cord cut.


After a particularly good fight, the bullfighter will walk around the ring and have roses and hats thrown at him (he throws back the hats). El Juli was the only one that had a mediocre fight that merited a trip around the ring.


This backup lance guy never saw any action.




El Fandi places two banderillas perfectly.


El Fandi definitely has a grace about him.

Horned Enemies

Both combatants have horns.










Bleeding or not, that’s a huge beast next to a tiny little human.




Lining up the insert the sword.

Needless to say, we were quite disappointed in the whole bullfight. Marce put it quite well when she compared it to a soccer match. Sometimes you see a soccer match between two great teams and it’s just boring and unspectacular. That’s what happened here. The bullfighters were great, but the bulls didn’t cooperate, and the result was nothing special. We still had a good time, though!

  • Robert Pittam

    There’s a reason why the Spanish persist in torture and death of animals for entertainment: they do not recognise the concept of cruelty to animals.You, as an American, have been raised in a culture that does. The ease with which you have shrugged off YOUR cultural standards reveals you as the vicious little pervert you are.

  • http://www.erik-rasmussen.com/ erik

    Robert, you seem to know a lot about Spanish culture and how they don’t have a concept of cruelty to animals. Have you studied Spanish culture or lived in Spain for many years? Do you have another example, besides bullfighting, that the Spanish regularly engage in cruelty to animals?

    Do you know the conditions that most livestock, and non-free-range chickens in particular, in the US and UK spend their entire lives? Oh, right, we have “cultural standards” against animal cruelty that keep that behind the curtain at Tesco.

    Do you know the peace and liberty in which the Toro Bravo spends his entire life before entering the bullring?

    You’ve clearly thought about all the moral and cultural complexities of this issue and have properly labeled me as the vicious little pervert I am. I’m thinking about organizing some puppy-kicking competitions. It should be a big hit here in Spain’s moral vacuum. Should I award more points for distance or volume of yelp?

    • Robert Wolz

      Hi Erik,

      I just thought you might be interested to know that El Fandi continues to be an entertaining bullfighter and is a master of the banderilla, but he´s as rubbish as ever with the sword. I saw him on his birthday this year at the Feria de Granada and was amazed with his skill. In his second fight, he would have certainly been awarded two ears but for needing three attempts with the sword. In the end, he only got one because of the home town crowd urging on the president of the plaza.

      Thanks for your interesting blog. I enjoyed reading it. Are you still in Spain?

  • kendall
  • Julie

    I was looking at videos of El Juli in Santander this past summer, and I stumbled upon this blog…I went to this very same bullfight on the same day in July! Santander is great. I hope to go back someday!

  • http://www.erik-rasmussen.com/ erik

    Wow! A positive American comment about bullfighting! Thanks, Julie!

    Funny that your name is Julie and you commented about seeing El Juli in July. :-) Caesar certainly left his mark.

  • kate

    How the hell can you watch an animal be tortured until it takes its final breath. How people can become so ungodly that they cheer the torturing of an animal to death is almost beyond my comprehension. That so called bravery is nothing but cowardliness. All bullfighters are cowards because they seem to think they need to kill an animal for no reason to be brave. I don’t call that bravery. I call that murder.

  • Paul

    Hi Kate. I suspect that you apply the term “murder” more liberally than I do. I feel I should correct you on a couple of things, however. Bullfighters are not cowards, and they do not kill animals for no reason to show bravery. The dance they perform with the bull has been entertaining people for centuries.

    I suspect that humans will fairly soon evolve to the “no animals were harmed in the making of this entertainment” level, but I don’t think bullfighting will ever rank in the top 1000 bad things humans did to animals.

  • Rania
  • Teresa

    Hey Erik,
    You seem to know enough about bullfighting as to explain it in this pics but let me tell u some things.
    Maybe you didnt notice but when El Juli goes around the ring is because he won a trophy, this is, the bull’s ear. You need to cut out at least 2 of them to get out of the Plaza trough the main gate (Puerta Grande) up in someone shoulders.
    U say that el Fandi’s banderillas looked like portuguese, and u were right but the thing is that green and red are the colors that represent Granada, El Fandi’s hometown.
    U say also that “sometimes, the bullfighters will remove their hat and throw it to the ground”, well it happens any time they offer thair “faena” to the public, called in the bullfighting slung “el repetable”.
    To the people that is against bullfighting i just wanna say that the bull is the most respectable animal in Spain. They live only for the show and they have a better death than the most of the animals in the world. Moreover, they die with dignity and with the applause of the people. When u go to the arena u receive a slip with the 6 bulls profile, name, weith, color, date of birth, the name of the farmer, etc. And thats important too coz the bulls are known (normally we call it after the name of the farmer or sometimes they are enough famous as to be known by his own name).
    Anyways, what i wanted to say that this is not cruel, I Dont try people from other cultures to understand it coz we r just from different cultures, but if u never saw a bullfighting dont judge us. I dont see many other costums from different countries and i dont tell people what is right or wrong.
    Thank u for ur understanding.

  • http://www.youtube.com/tectonic08 tectonic08

    I am amazed and saddened that you use such phrases as:

    “Good bullfighting is really very similar to a dance”
    “Both combatants have horns”
    “El Fandi has bad luck inserting his sword…”
    “ThatÂ’s not ketchup”

    Your words are completely crass and pathetic. By attending bullfights you are helping to perpetuate a cruel, barbaric and uncivilised so-called “sport”. It is not sport. It is awful. And don’t tell me that because humans kill cattle for meat, bullfighting is the same and alright and what’s the difference? The difference is that abattoirs provide a very quick death for cattle whereas bullfighting is long and cruel for the bull, and people pay to watch and cheer… just like you. You are condoning bullfighting by attending. These bullfighters prance and strut around in pink socks and gay suits trying to be all brave. The bull is essentially defenceless. Bullfighters deserve the injuries they get. I don’t know how you can live with yourself going to bullfights.

  • Blas de Lezo

    Dear Robert Pittam,

    As a spaniard, I find your words truly regrettable. I’m not fan of bullfighting and I have my reasons. But I just hope you don’t enjoy too much your hamburguers, or hot dogs, or fried chicken wings, or your shampoo, or your shower gel, or all your other unnecesary hygine products, or all your unnecesary animal proceding stuff. All those animals are grown up, crowded and banned from real world only to satisfy you. They don’t have even the smallest chance to fight their cultivators for their lives.

    The fighting bull not only has the chance to fight, but also contributes to environment conservation (a single fighting bull needs a lot of land for himself to grow up with courage).

    When the rest of the animals that our occidental society sacrifices, only for the sake of their own pleasure, are equally treated as the fighting bull, we could talk again. Meanwhile, you should care about the animal abusing on your own country, and left us fight our own battles. Especially when you have no idea of what are you talking about.

    If you are from US, you should instead gather your energies to promote the banning of human sacrifices you still got in some states. If you are from any other country in the world where there is not capital punishment, fight for hunting banning.

    I have my own reasons for stand against bull fighting, but I won’t allow any insult to Spain from people who have no idea of what they are talking about.

    Dear Mr. Tetctonic08

    Bullfighting is not a sport, but a tradition. A ritual. The sacred origins of the bull in Spain are lost in time, back even to Celt-Iberian rites before 2 BC (Bulls of Guisand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulls_of_Guisando). I think no one in Spain considers it a “sport”, not the pro-bullfighting neither the anti-bullfighting people.

    Dear Eric,

    I like your blog very much.

    I have my own reasons for opposing bullfighting. I really think that a ritual that involves killing one of the animal “totems” of Spain is a bit schizophrenic and divides the national spirit (maybe the old “two Spains” topic is in part a cause of killing one of our simbolic animals).
    On the other hand, I think this tradition that goes back into millenia should be preserved. So the only real solution that comes into my mind is keeping the bullfighting, keeping that ancestral dance in which human heart defeats beast, but forbidding the actual killing and stabbing. I know many people would say that death it’s an inherent part of it, but I truly believe they are sadly mistaken. The true spirit of bullfighting is the domination of our inner beasts, not the kill of our animal. That’s my two cents.

    Nobody in their senses would kill our other simbolic animals (Iberian Lynx, Imperial Eagle, Iberian Wolf, etc). This must not be an exception. Bullfighting can be preserved without killing. In fact, I think that’s the only possible future of bullfighting. And I can assure you that many young people in Spain think, more or less, something similar to me.

    Saludos. Keep on the good work!