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Almadén > World Heritage Site > Bullring


The construction of the Plaza de Toros of Almadén is closely linked to the San Rafael Royal Mining Hospital.

In early August 1752, the superintendent of the mines, which at the time was Mr. Francisco Javier de Villegas, given the frequent epidemics and high mortality among the population and forced laborers in the mines, proposed the foundation of the San Rafael Royal Mining Hospital.

These epidemics were motivated, among other reasons, by the housing shortage to accommodate the seasonal workers of the mines. This resulted in the   construction of 24 houses shaping a hexagonal plaza with a dual purpose, to avoid overcrowding in the neighborhood - 4 or 5 families per house - which increased the risk of epidemics, and to contribute, with its rental, with money to build the Mining Hospital.

These 24 houses, in turn, formed a ring for the celebration of bullfighting festivals and was a meeting place for the general population, with a capacity of 4,000 people, investing likewise the income obtained in such celebrations in the construction of the San Rafael Royal Mining Hospital.

For the location of the bullring or "Plaza Nueva"  the flattest and most suitable place was chosen, the site of the Cruz del Hierro (Iron Cross), in the threshing floors of the path of the Villa Real (currently Ciudad Real).

Another reason for the construction of the bullring was the spread of the mining works to the plaza where, up to then, the bullfighting celebrations had been taking place (currently Plaza de la Constitución). In fact, there is a winch (mineshaft) located in what today are the stairs to the Church of San Juan. For this reason, the arc located under Almadén Town Hall is known as “el  toril", since it is the place where the bulls were enclosed. At the same time, and for the same reason, Antonio Blazquez Street is locally known under the name of "street of the bulls," as this is the street by where the bulls were brought to the pen to be enclosed.

Once the "Plaza Nueva" was built, the project of at least six annual bullfight festivals, with five or six bulls each, was established with the aim of raising revenue for the construction of the hospital.

The Villegas superintendent did not wait for the approval of his superiors to start working on the plaza. In an official statement on August 16, 1752 he reported the commencement of the construction, while requesting permission to hold the first bullfights celebration in order to get the first money to meet the loans granted for its construction by the town residents, mainly mine journeymen and members of the Charity Congregation.

These requests are approved by Royal Order of August 28, 1752. On April 4, 1753 all interior and exterior walls up to the first floor had been built in order to celebrate the first festivals. The rental of the houses, mainly intended for seasonal workers accommodation, began in late 1753 with only 8 inhabited houses and in 1755 more than half of them were inhabited and the number of occupants exceeded 200.

Between 1755 and 1757 the works were forced unemployment of the mine workers due to the fire that affected the mines, and which lasted for two and a half years. During this period, both the square and the hospital itself-which began its construction in November 1755- benefited from the use of a greater number of workers in an attempt to avoid a massive emigration.

The works of the plaza completely ended in 1765 with a cost over 320,000 “reales de vellón” (currency at the time). Probably, the first celebrations carried out in the Plaza Nueva are those referring October 1752, when 21 bulls were fought between 19, 21 and 23 of that month by Pedro Campanero and Pedro Martin Zancudo, at one “real” the seat.

The old houses are placed on two floors surrounding the arena, which is formed in turn by two galleries in height, being the lower built in whitewashed arcade and the upper by wooden columns and wooden structure holding elements. After their rehabilitation in 2003, still today important bullfighting festivals take place and it also houses the Bullfighting Museum, exhibition hall, Tourist Office, restaurant and hotel.


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