With just a few hours to enjoy Madrid, I headed to Plaza Mayor, a 17th century gathering place in the historic centre of the city. While the square is now flooded with tourists sporting iPods and digital cameras, herders once drove enormous fighting bulls through the streets of the city to do battle with matadors on these cobblestones while earlier, accused heretics faced gruesome executions here during the Spanish Inquisition. Welcome to the Old World, where 'ancient' means something quite different than 'born before 1950.'
Plaza Mayor, Madrid
Two passions of the Madrileños are tapas (tasty appetizer-sized dishes) and bullfighting (for and against). I decided to get a flavor of both at once. La Torre del Oro is a tapas bar and temple to the art of bullfighting located on the Plaza. If anyone thinks it’s always the bullfighter that wins, think again. Dozens of photos of matadors being gored by 1200 pound fighting bulls decorate the walls along with the heads of several massive bulls, including one that the barman claims was killed during a fight famously attended by both aficionado Ernesto Hemingway and General Franco. Those who are still following this blog when I return to Spain at the end of June will likely hear more about bulls, but suffice to say after seeing how enormous these Spanish bulls really are, I’d be wise to rethink any close encounters that may occur down the road...
Onward to Morocco!