Spain's last bullfight marks end of 600 years of history
It was the end of more than 600 years of history.
On Sunday evening, amid the cheers of fans and the bloody death throes of fighting bulls, Barcelona hosted its last-ever bullfight.
As dusk fell in the Catalan capital, sequin-clad local matador Serafín Marín dispatched the last of six bulls on the sand of the packed La Monumental bullring – where touts had been offering tickets at eight times their original price.
With bullfighting banned in Catalonia as of next year – and with Sunday's fight marking the end of the season in Barcelona – no Spanish fighting bull will be killed in the city in the name of sport or art for the foreseeable future.
Supporters denounced the ban as an infringement of civil liberties. Opponents declared it an enlightened move away from mindless barbarity.
"We have won the war, but today we will lose a battle as six animals will die," said a 32-year-old protester who gave only her first name, Montserrat. "They are pigs," said Antonio, 70, an elegant white-suited fan, pointing to the small crowd of animal rights protesters gathered outside La Monumental.
Either way, it was an historic moment. An 18,000-strong crowd packed into the stands to watch the matadors in their shiny "suits of lights" step out for the last time to the sound of trumpets and a band playing pasodoble tunes.
Activists and many locals said the ban reflected the sensitivity of locals to the needless suffering of animals in the name of entertainment.
"We are glad that the torturing of bulls in Catalan bullrings is over," said anti-bullfight protester Aïda Gascón.