The first bullfight as we know it today, or "corrida de toros," was in Vera, Logroño, in the twelfth century. Bullfighting is still popular among the peasant class and has become symbolic of Spanish identity.
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The first bull fight, in 1133, was held to honour of the coronation of King Alfonso VIII. Bullfighting continued after the Spanish War of Reconquest ended, until King Philip II sought help and support from Pope Pius V to get it banned by papal decree.
In 1726, Francisco Romero from Ronda became the first professional bullfighter in Spain. It was Romero's style that allowed bullfighting to develop into the form with which we are familiar today. He introduced the estoc, which is a variation of a longsword used in the kill, and the "muleta"--the stick from which a small cape is draped that is used in the last third of the bullfight.
A typical Spanish bullfight requires six bulls and three bullfighters, or matadors, and is divided into three parts. In the first, the matador does a series of passes with a large cape. In the second, mounted "picadors" lance the bull three times and "banderilleros" place brightly coloured barbed sticks in its shoulders to force it to lower its head for the kill. In the third, the matador uses the estoc and muleta to stab the bull between the shoulder blades, killing it.
In December 2009, a ban against bullfighting passed into law after more than 180,000 signatures demanding the sport be banned in Catalonia were gathered. The city council in Barcelona held a vote against bullfighting in 2004, but it was merely symbolic, as bullfighting continues there. Bullfighting's defenders are as passionate as its detractors, and for the time being it seems as if it will continue being a part of Spanish life.
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