Just over half an hour’s walk from Alicante’s beaches lies a fascinating place which attracts fewer visitors than it deserves. That may be because it is a hidden gem which is hidden because few people know about it. The Bull Ring and its associated museum are an interesting insight into an activity that polarises opinion, even within the country.
The Alicante bullring was built in 1848 by local architect Emilio Jover, who was also responsible for the city’s Teatro Principal. It is located on the Villafranqueza road, opposite the Plaza de España. The first bullfight held in Alicante for which data is available was held in the year 1700. From the beginning of the 18th century , bullfights in Alicante were carried out in various places, such as Plaza del Mar or San Francisco, and a provisional wooden plaza was built in 1839 in Barranquet. That all changed when bullfighting had its first permanent home in the city.
It is free to visit but choose your hours carefully or you will be disappointed. On Tuesdays to Saturdays it is open 1030-1330 throughout the year. It opens again in the early evening Tuesday to Friday 1700-2000 but an hour later during the summer months. You don’t need to speak Spanish as there really is no information in the museum. It’s an exhibition of bullfighting memorabilia, photos, paintings and sculptures. Simple but effective really.
You are free to wander around the bullring too. From an artistic point of view these gladiatorial surroundings are fascinating. We’ve never been to see the real thing so we can’t comment on that at all. The corridors are decorated with posters of the annual bullfights throughout the years. They take place at 7pm towards the end of June for the San Juan fiestas. With a capacity of 11,000 you might think that tickets are easy to come by, but apparently not! There are a handful of taxidermy bull heads on display which may challenge some people’s sensitivity. It’s always going to be an emotive subject and each individual will have their own thoughts and feelings as they wander around.
The bullring has been used for many other events over the years. It hosts pop concerts on a regular basis and is sometimes home to a winter ice rink. In 2004 it even hosted the tennis Davis Cup semi-final when Spain beat France to move into the final.