Plaza de Toros in Valencia
Plaza de Toros

Brief history

Although the Plaza de Toros itself is a relatively modern building, built in the mid-1800s, bullfighting is a long-standing and much more ancient tradition.

According to some historians, bull-related celebrations were already practised in Neolithic Turkey (as early as 3000 BC), while the bullfight itself can be traced back to Roman gladiator games (1st century BC).

  • 1373 Written mention in Valencia

    The first written references to bullfighting events in Valencia date back to 1373, in the Manual de Consells (a sort of Council Registry). After that, numerous other written references were made.

    This doesn’t mean that Valencia didn’t host bullfighting events before that, rather that there is no certain date as to when the first celebration was held. Supposedly, the tradition in Spain dates back to 711 AD.

  • 1300-1800 Bullfights held in public squares

    Initially, bullfighting spectacles were held in different parts of the city, wherever there was enough open space. A popular location was the Market Square, where the Central Market is now located.

    With time, temporary structures began to be erected for the occasion. These constructions, which were dismantled right at the end of the celebration, became known as Plazas de Toros (Bullrings) over time.

  • 1625 Valencia’s General Hospital sponsorship

    Valencia’s hospital started sponsoring the festivities (and the construction of temporary structures) to finance the hospital’s financial needs through the income generated by the event.

  • 1788 Permanent wooden bullring

    Given the great popularity of the event, the decision was made to build a permanent bullring. A wooden structure was built on the site of the current Plaza de Toros (then land owned by the General Hospital).

  • 1808 Demolition

    Valencians demolished the wooden Plaza de Toros to prevent the French from gaining a foothold there during the Peninsular War (1807-1814). After the demolition, the bullfights returned to the squares, outside the city walls.

  • 1850-1851 Construction of the current bullring

    The then governor of Valencia did not consider it safe for the festivities to be held in the streets, so he promoted the construction of a new bullring. The construction had to be stopped for financial reasons in 1851, after only three floors had been built.

  • 1857 Construction continues

    The project was finished with the remaining tiers built in brick.

  • 1859 First bullfight

    The first bullfight in the new ring took place even before the official inauguration of the building.

  • 1861 Inauguration

    The official inauguration took place in 1861. At the time, the building had a capacity of 16 800 spectators.

  • 1929 Museum

    The Bullfighting Museum, still existing today, was founded.

  • 1939 Prison

    At the end of the Civil War (1936-1939), the building was temporarily used as a prison and concentration camp for Republicans by Franco’s dictatorship.

  • 1967 Renovations

    The wooden stands were replaced with concrete, the ticket office was built, and barriers were installed.

  • 1983 National Monument

    Valencia’s Plaza de Toros was declared a National Artistic Monument.

  • 1995 Capacity reduced

    Due to safety requirements, the number of seats was reduced to around 12,000.