Constitutional Court Overturns Bullfighting Ban

  • Spain’s highest court has declared Catalonia’s Bullfighting ban null and void.
  • The court’s decision was that bullfighting is protected as part of Spain’s national heritage and in that context, a ban could only be implemented by central government.

Declaring the decision beyond the authority of the Catalan regional parliament is likely to exacerbate the already highly strung tension between Madrid and Catalonia.

Some have criticised the Catalan ban as being more to do with a politically motivated agenda and a wish to assert their authority, than any focus on the issue of animal rights.

Supporters of the Catalan initiative to ban bullfighting will point towards their campaign at the beginning of the decade that gathered 180,000 signatures petitioning for a debate on the issue. Their campaign was a major driving force that resulted in a law to ban bullfighting in 2010, subsequently implemented in 2012.

Bullfighting: Court Overturns Catalan Ban; Bullfighting Regions; Ibiza's Plaza de Toros
Bullfighting: Court Overturns Catalan Ban; Bullfighting Regions; Ibiza's Plaza de Toros

There has been strong reaction on both sides of this most divisive issue.

“In the Spanish state, it’s unconstitutional to ban the public torture and murder of an animal. Enough said,” tweeted Gabriel Rufian, a Catalan separatist lawmaker in national parliament.

Alicia Sanchez-Camacho is president of the Catalan branch of the ruling conservative Popular Party that took the ban to court. Alicia said she “welcomed” the decision. She tweeted that the party would “continue to defend” freedom and bullfighting.

Even animal rights party PACMA criticised the decision as politically motivated. “Once more they have been found to use animals in a political war,” said party member Ana Bayle. “They don’t know anything about animals, nor do they care.”

Spain has seen many demonstrations opposing bullfighting in recent years. Though Catalonia is the first to attempt to impose a legal ban, Castile, Leon, A Coruña and others have banned, or placed restrictions on bullfighting events.

Supporters of bullfighting are trying to preserve what they consider an art and an important part of Spanish culture. Known as aficionados, the pro bullfight supporters have welcomed the court’s decision. Simon Casas owns a bullfighting management company with rings in Madrid, elsewhere in Spain and France, and is a former matador himself.

He said “Bullfighting is a form of culture under supervision of Spain’s culture ministry, it’s an art form that is part of the identity of some people and it was totally absurd that a political institution – the Catalan government – was able to ban it”.

“The debate wasn’t about liking or not liking bullfighting, being for or against it, it was a constitutional issue and the court sorted it out.”

Bullfighting Around Spain

Infografía: Radiografía del toreo en España | StatistaAs seen in the infographic above, provided by and based on Government figures, the level of bullfighting varies considerably in Spain’s regions.

The Canaries and Catalonia both have prohibition orders in place and so are at zero, and the northern most border regions have a relatively low-level of bullfighting.

It is in the large central provinces where bullfighting is still most common.

In 2015, there were 72 in Madrid and 80 in Andalusia. There was one bullfight in the Balearic Islands in 2005.

Plaza de Toros de Ibiza
plaza de toros ibiza

Then and now. Above Ibiza’s Bullring. Photo source and we didn’t have time to ask so we hope they are nice people. Below, the park that now stands in its place. The park is named after Bob Marley who famously played at the Bullring in 1978.


Ibiza had a bullfighting ring. To many people it is equally famous for being the location of the 1978 Bob Marley concert. The ground on which it was located is now a car park in front of Ibiza Towns hotel Royal Plaza.

Denis Ibicenco (probably just a FB name!!) was kind enough to provide some info.

  • The Ibiza Bullring opened on 17 Sept 1961
  • It was last used for bullfighting on 22 Sept 1985.
  • The Bullring was demolished during the 90s (unclear so best bet)
  • Asked why it ceased operating Denis said “debts of the owners, then criminals, spontaneous market, drugs, etc… “, so pretty well Ibiza standard then.
  • And the Bob Marley concert – 28 June 1978.