Part 9: MC Escher and Plaza de Toros


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The Trip

The plan was for an "easy day" and only do two sights: the MC Echer exhibit and go to a bull fight.  A word of caution -- these photos are explicit and quite gruesome.  You view them at your own risk.  I will greatly frown upon ex post facto hate mail about the content from readers who are "offended" by the photos given this warning.  The mail, which will surely come, will however, receive a lively response from me.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Photos were prohibited, but they did have this spot set up for tourist photos.  The Escher exhibit was excellent and if you are a fan of his work, you should check it out.  It was only in his later years that he started experimenting with the things that he is most known for, prior to that he was a "conventional" artist doing lithographs (and plenty of them).

The Plaza de Toros is very big and ornate on the outside.  Note the Moorish influence in the tile and brickwork.  Built in 1929, it is the soul of Madrid.

Beautiful hand-painted tile on the facade and tile on the roof.  Note the beautiful patterns in the bricks.

I assume this fellow was a famous bull fighter.

The sun side of the arena are the "cheap seats" so everybody that could afford it was in the shade.  The fights started at 1800 on the dot.

The fighters and horses did a lap around the stadium prior to the first bull.

The fight proceeds in an organized manner: the bull is released.  He is then taunted by the fighters causing him to run around and get tired.  Then the horses are brought in to attack the neck muscles.  Then the barbs are inserted to further debilitate the neck muscles.  Finally, the featured matador is brought it for the kill.

These fellows have big brass balls as they have to get close enough to insert the barbs without getting gored.  One of the bulls did manage to impact one of the fighters.

The trick is to get the bull close, but not too close, and do the cape work with style and grace.

The bull is almost touching the matador.  A well done pass.

Killing sword in hand, the matador lines up the strike.  It must be precise as a miss results in a long death.  The sword must miss the scapula and ribs and go top-down into the heart.

Look closely, the sword is fully embedded in the bull's back.

This was a heart-strike as there was no bleeding from the nose.  We'll see more of that later in this photo set.

One of the other assistants comes in with a smaller knife and severs the spinal cord to prevent injuries to the other workers.

A team of mules is brought in to haul off the carcass.

Next bull, this is a dangerous maneuver as the matador is on his knees and cannot easily escape injury if the bull's attention departs from the cape to the human.

A good pass.

The bull is being stabbed in the neck muscles.  Note the body lean on the horse as it attempts to offset the force of the bull.

This fellow got very close to being gored.

More barbs in the back.

A close pass.

The hands on the hips in the classic style.

The instant of insertion.  The matador has to jump up to get the right angle on the sword.

The strike was a miss - this fellow attempt to cut the spinal cord, but it took a number of stabs to finally hit the right spot.  Note the blood coming out of the bull's nose.

Next bull, the spear is embedded fully to the hilt.  The bull is giving the horse a good thrashing.

Other stabs to the back.  You can see the blood spurting from the previous wounds.  Also note that the horse is padded and blindfolded.  No sane horse would allow a bull to hit them in the midsection, so blinders are the only way to make this move work.

Those horns are close.

A good strike, probably both lungs and heart.  Note the blood coming out the nose.  The handle of the sword is clearly visible.

This bull was big, strong and mean.  Note the ripped muscles on his rear.  He drove full-power into the side of the horse.  Note the lean into the blow.  The strike made a huge "thump" audible all over the stadium causing a big reaction from the audience.  As the bull was distracted by hitting the horse, the horseman spears the bull to attempt to disable the neck muscles to prevent "head lift" that would make a clean kill impossible.

Note the horse's stance.  The spear is fully embedded into the bull's back.

The horse was leaning into the bull so far that when the bull retreated, the horse lost it's balance and fell to the ground with the rider still in the stirrups.

That's got to be very scary seeing those horns coming at you full blast.

A nice pass.

Note how close the matador is to the bull.

I missed the photo of the killing strike, but the gush of blood from the bull's nose tells the story: it was a lung strike.  Although the sword was fully embedded to the hilt, the bull took quite awhile to go down.  Note the blood trail on the ground as he circled and circled in his final moments.

The MC Escher exhibit was excellent.  He was truly a one-of-a-kind fellow that was a master of perception.  The bull fight was our first and it was as you would expect.  There were 6 featured bulls, but we left after 5, mostly to beat the massive crush to leave the Plaza after the last kill.  The sport is very dangerous and quite brutal.  Man-against-beast in the most basic form.

Next: Travel to Barcelona from Madrid for the next phase of our trip.

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