I have never been to a bullfight, nor visited a bullring before. I would like to go once to a bullfight, to understand what is involved before drawing any conclusions. But even before going it is clear that bullfighting is a deep-rooted part of the culture of this part of Spain and that both the bulls and matadors are treated with real reverence in the local community. I am not surprised at this. I know from my experience of hunting that it is those who hunt who often have the greatest respect for their prey. And whilst matador deaths are very rare it is clear that death is a clear risk on every occasion.
On visiting the bullring at Seville, and at Ronda of which more in another post, my strongest impression was that in bull-fighting and the bull-fighting arena there is as direct a link as you could possibly find back to the gladiator and the Roman arena. And whilst the bullring was empty when we visited, I can only imagine what the atmosphere is like when there are 12,000 people in the arena, the sun beating down on the centre and man and bull engaged in a deadly dance.