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Tourism

Madrid’s historic bullring to close temporarily over safety concerns

Bullfights suspended until further notice at iconic Las Ventas venue, which could host other events

Madrid’s historic bullring, La Monumental de Las Ventas, will temporary shut its doors at some point this summer to improve safety conditions for patrons, although no specific start or completion dates for carrying out the revamp have yet been announced.

The Las Ventas bullring was built in 1929.
The Las Ventas bullring was built in 1929. EFE

The decision was made by city and regional authorities due to recurring safety issues with a building popular with tourists to the Spanish capital that dates back to 1929, according to a story published on Thursday by the Spanish daily El Mundo.

This newspaper said that a lack of investment in building maintenance over many years, coupled with the city’s refusal to grant licenses for non-bullfight related events at the venue, had triggered the decision to shut down the ring altogether until modern safety standards can be met.

In 2013 there was a failed attempt at building a retractable roof, which collapsed three days before its inauguration

Although no reopening date has been set, the hope is that Las Ventas will be operational again in time for the 2018 San Isidro festivities, a spring highlight of the Madrid cultural agenda.

Another national daily, Abc, reported that city and regional officials negotiated the temporary closure with the venue’s new management company, which wants to hold all kinds of public events there besides bullfights.

Madrid City Hall believes this will require a revamp of existing facilities to introduce elements such as ramps for wheelchair access and upgraded emergency exits.

The early 20th-century bullring, which is built in the unique Spanish neo-Mudéjar style, was classified as a landmark building in 1994, and any alterations to it require authorization from Spain’s National Heritage board.

The roof built in 2013 caved in on itself.
The roof built in 2013 caved in on itself.

A bullfight scheduled for this coming Sunday will in all likelihood be the last to be held there ahead of the temporary closure.

With seating space for 23,798 spectators, La Monumental de las Ventas is Spain’s largest bullring and the world’s third largest after those of Mexico City and of the Venezuelan city of Valencia.

The last renovations at the site date back to 2013, when there was a failed attempt at building a retractable roof to give the ring a use during the autumn and winter months, when there is no bullfighting.

The roof collapsed three days before its scheduled inauguration. Warner Music had paid €4 million for the project in exchange for exclusive rights to hold all kinds of events at Las Ventas over the following three years.

English version by Susana Urra.

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