| || Hesitating between the picador and the matador, a bull paws the albero—hard, yellowish earth extracted from the nearby quarries of Alcalá de Guadaira—in Seville’s Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza. Construction of these arenas began in 1761 and lasted 120 years. Bullﬁghts are held in a slightly oval space 206.5 feet (63 meters) long, surrounded by tiered seating for 14,000 spectators. Two red lines, as the regulations demand, run 23 and 33 feet (7 and 10 meters) from the barrier, emphasizing its curve. Behind this life-saving fence, which can be vaulted over thanks to the white footboard at its base, runs the callejón, where matadors take refuge from the bull. Controversy continues to rage over this centuries-old tradition—which enthusiasts appreciate as an art and critics condemn as cruel butchery—heightened since 1997 by the Treaty of Amsterdam, which recognizes animals as “sentient beings” and demands that they be respected. Certain agricultural practices, such as force-feeding geese and the intensive rearing of animals, have also been condemned.
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