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Catalonia says goodbye to 600 years of 'toros'

José Tomás brings curtain down on centuries of bullfighting history in the Catalonia region

José Tomás brought the curtain down on 624 years of bullfighting tradition in the Catalonia region on Sunday night as he displayed his matador pedigree with a virtuoso performance at Barcelona's Monumental bullring.

Tomás, one of the most exciting matadors of his generation, had taken two ears at press time in front of a crowd that filled the night air with cries of "Liberty!"

Catalonia's ban on bullfighting enters into force on January 1, bringing an end to one of Spain's most divisive cultural traditions in the region.

Bullfights were first mentioned in northern Spain in the general archive of the Aragonese Crown in 1387. The issue has become deeply controversial in recent years, with a growing public rejection of the practice exacerbating the effect of dwindling gates and the decision of the state broadcaster, RTVE, to stop screening bullfights.