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One in a series of pictures taken on a long weekend in Seville, the capital of Andalucia in Southern Spain. A most beautiful city well worth visiting.

Another view of the interior of the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.

Some information about the bullring from the andalucia.com website (http://www.andalucia.com):

This magnificent bullring is considered to be one of the finest in Spain and is one of the oldest and most important in the world. Although many of the younger generation in Spain abhor the sport, it remains phenomenally popular, especially in Seville, and the 'Catedral del Toreo' is the perfect place to experience the electric atmosphere of a corrida (bullfight).

The building, with its impressive Baroque façade, dates from 1762 -1881 (under a succession of architects) and was immortalized in Bizet's Carmen. The arena accommodates 14,000 and, despite its size, the acoustics allow you to hear everything wherever you're sitting. The main entrance is the Puerta del Príncipe (the Prince's Gate) with beautiful 16th-century iron gates, originally from a convent, made by Pedro Roldán. After an outstanding performance the torero (bullfighter) will be carried out through these gates on the audience's shoulders. Look out for the slight slope in the arena; it's higher in the centre than near the stalls to give the bullfighter an advantage - he can sprint downhill to get behind the barricade, while the bull has to come to a stop to avoid crashing into it.

The tour visits the small but interesting museum, which traces the sport's history from the 18th century to present day. Its collection of memorabilia includes costumes, posters and bull's heads, as well as paintings of some celebrated Sevillano toreros such as Juan Belmonte and Joselito El Gallo, whose suits worn at the tender age of 14 are on display. You also visit the chapel, dedicated to the Virgen de la Caridad, where fighters pray before entering the ring, and an infirmary - in 20 per cent of bullfights the torero needs emergency treatment. (The bulls aren't as lucky, of course. All are killed.) There's a souvenir shop selling books, postcards and posters in the entrance.

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10627 W: 63 N: 29874] (130967)
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