To the delight of both animal rights activists and bovines the world over, the Catalan government banned bullfighting in Barcelona and the Catalonia region in July 2010, with the ruling coming into force on January 1, 2012. Then, four years later, a Spanish court voted to overturn Catalonia's bullfighting ban.
Of the three bullfighting arenas in Barcelona, one of the last remaining arenas still standing, La Monumental, is now home to a museum about bullfighting, Museu Taurí. Despite the ban being lifted, the bullfights have not returned.
If you are planning a visit to Barcelona and really want to see a bullfight, then nearest bullfight is about 200 miles away in Zaragoza.
The Ban and the Overturn
Bullfighting is a controversial topic for the region. The sport has been declining in popularity especially in the Catalan region, which claims it has its own identity apart from "Spanish" culture.
The Catalan parliament took a vote following a petition that had more than 180,000 signatures calling for a ban on bullfighting. The vote passed. The last bullfight in Catalonia took place on in September 2011 at La Monumental in Barcelona. Then, in 2016, the Spanish Constitutional Court overturned the ban and ruled that, though an autonomous region is allowed to regulate bullfighting, an autonomous region is not in a legal position to fully ban such fights. The court cited bullfighting's long and storied cultural significance in Spain.
Since the ban was lifted, La Monumental in Barcelona has remained a museum touting the history of bullfighting. In 2017, it hosted the Battle of Nations Medieval Tournament drawing teams from up to 25 countries competing using metal weapons and a standardized list of rules. But, bullfighting has not returned.
History of Bullfighting in Barcelona
The earliest recorded fight in Catalonia took place in 1387. The sport was popular in Medieval Spain for the nobles. It was not until the early 19th century that bullfighting in the region took its form as a modern spectator sport for the masses.
Historically, there had been three bullrings in Barcelona dedicated to bullfighting. There was the Plaza de El Torin, which was built in 1834, but no longer exists; Plaza de las Arenas, which was built in 1900, which has been transformed into a shopping mall; and the most recent bullring, the Plaza de Toros Monumental, or simply, La Monumental, built in 1914.
You may not be able to see a bullfight in Barcelona. However, if you're really must see one while in Spain or the region, there are several cities nearby where you can see bullfighting. The best place to see a bullfight today is in Madrid or Seville (although it is also practiced more or less all over the country).
There are many non-violent bullfighting alternatives in the area if you'd like to still soak up some Spanish culture. You can book tickets to a guided tour of the Museu Taurí if you'd like to show your appreciation for bullfighting in a decidedly less violent manner. La Monumental is about 10 minutes away from La Sagrada Familia, another popular Barcelona sightseeing destination.