Plaza Mayor is a stately, traffic-free chunk
of 17th-century Spain. Whether hanging out with old friends, enjoying a cup of coffee,
or finding a treasure at the Sunday coin market, it’s an inviting place for people to gather. The square is filled with emblems of Spain’s
powerful past. Bronze reliefs under the lampposts show how upon this stage, much of Spanish
history was played out. The square hosted bullfights. It was the scene of generations
of Carnavale gaiety. And during the Inquisition, many suspected heretics were tried here and
punished…in this case, publicly strangled. Thankfully, the brutality of the Inquisition
is long gone. But one brutal spectacle that survives today — anchored deep in the psyche
of Spain — is the bullfight. Whether you actually go to a bullfight or not is entirely
up to you. But anyone, for a quick sense of the action, can pop into one of Madrid’s
many bull bars. Aficionados gather at a bar like this after
fights — or to watch one on TV. This bar is a temple to bullfighting. Rick: If you like bull fighting, how do you
justify it, with the animal? How do you excuse it?
Carlos: It’s an art. Bull fighting is an art. It’s not about the cruelty, it’s
just an art, and it’s a whole aesthetic. You’re fighting against an animal that is
500 or 600 kilos and there is this guy right in front of him with this cape and sword.
And he is brave enough, and he’s wearing this suit and people are so supportive of
him they want to see him like doing well. Rick: So some bullfighters are actually very
popular, like heroes or popular heroes? Carlos: Oh absolutely. Rick, look at these
photographs. I think they prove that the matador does not always win. Carlos: Hemingway was at that bullfight.
Hemingway was there. Rick: Hemingway? Hemingway saw Liston…
Cordobés kill …? Carlos: Yes, right at the hands of El Cordobés,
with Franco in the audience… Rick: So Franco and Hemingway saw the “Babe
Ruth of bullfighting” — El Cordobés — kill Liston.