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Saturday, March 10, 2012

San Fermin Festival - Running of the Bulls

Dear Family and Friends,

We are in Pamplona, Spain.  I had not heard of this city in Spain before we came here, but I had heard and seen on television about the annual running of the bulls through the streets. Pamplona is where this event takes place.

The bull runs have been going on in this city since the 1500's or before.  It was in 1591 that the town decided to combine the religious festival San Fermin with the running of the bulls. Every year since then on July 7th through the 14th this celebration takes place.

Every morning, during these seven days in July, the bulls run from the corral they are in to the bull ring.  We walked the route, it is about 6 or 7 blocks long.  Back in the old days the way was not blocked off and sometimes a bull would get loose into other streets of the city.  Today, the route is walled off so that the bulls cannot escape.

The men that run with the bulls each year have to get permission (maybe pay, I don't know) to do it.  They all wear white shirts and pants with a red scarf around their neck.  There are hundreds of runners every year.

The event occurs something like this.  At 8:00am a rocket is shot off at the corral and the doors to the corral are opened.  Another rocket is shot off as the bulls leave the corral.  A third rocket is shot off when all the bulls are inside the bullfighting ring and a fourth rocket is shot off when all the bulls are once again in their pins.  It is my opinion that the rocket part was done in years past so that the citizens of the city would know when it was safe to come out of hiding.

This event has been known in Spain for hundreds of years. Ernest Hemingway was in Pamplona for the event in the 1920's.  He wrote about it in the novel, "The Sun Also Rises."  After this, the whole world knew about this celebration and Pamplona's festivities have been famous worldwide ever since.

This is one of the streets that the bulls and people run down.  They put barricade walls up to protect the businesses. The people who are the lucky ones, are standing safely on the balconies above.

This is the entrance to the arena that the bulls take.  It is walled off to keep them on course.

Here is a picture of the arena.  One of the fanciest bull fighting arenas I have ever seen.

This is a bar across the street from the arena.  It is named in honor of Ernest Hemingway.  He is well loved here in Pamplona.

If you would like to read a first hand account of one of the men who runs with the bulls each year, you can click here

Tomorrow we are off to Bilbao, Spain (on the freeway this time).


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