Rope bullfighting

Bullfighting is ancestral and the island maintains several active cattle ranches. The activity is divided into square bullfights and the typical rope bullfights, in which the bull runs through the streets of the town held by a long rope held by a group of men, known as the shepherds. The bull season runs from the 1st of May to the 15th of October.

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Rope bullfighting is considered the greatest manifestation of popular character in the Azores, being a show specific to this region, mainly from the Central Group, with particular expression on Terceira Island. Its central element is Toiro Bravo, which is idolized by our people and by all who visit us. Rope bullfights are held on the islands of São Jorge, Graciosa, Pico and Terceira, the latter being the island with the highest number of shows per year, with more than 200 festivities. Such is the importance of wild cattle in the popular imagination of Terceira that the victory at the Battle of Salga, on July 25, 1581, is attributed to the bulls, when they expelled the invading Castilian troops. Portuguese to resist Filipino rule. For this reason, they are also represented (bulls) in the coat of arms of the Autonomous Region of the Azores. The first reference to rope bullfighting appears only in 1622, on the occasion of the celebrations, in Angra, for the canonization of São Francisco Xavier and Santo Inácio de Loyola. In these celebrations, rope bulls were “run” through the streets of the city. However, it is believed that these popular manifestations already existed much earlier. Despite the origin of rope bullfighting being lost in the memory of the times, this spectacle of popular nature is currently duly legislated with a set of rules that guarantee its proper functioning, the health and well-being of the animal, as well as the safety of the population.
When can I see a Bullfight? Rope bullfights are held from May 1 to October 15 of each calendar year. On Terceira island, rope bullfights start at the following times:
  • from the 1st of May to the 15th of August: 6:30 pm; from 16 August to 15 September: 18:00; September 16th to September 30th: 5:30 pm; from 1st to 15th of October: 17h00.
How do I know the bull is on the street? The bull’s exit from the cage is signaled with one rocket and its collection with two. The end of the bullfight is signaled with the launch of several rockets.
Can anyone go above the cages?
Not. It is forbidden for unauthorized people to stay on top of bull cages.
Can any bull be run?
The bull can only be run with the authorization of the veterinarian and after mandatory rest between two bullfights.
Where do the bulls go at the end of the bullfight?
Immediately after the end of the bullfight, the bulls are transported, in the cages, to their natural habitat (the bush).
How do I know I’m in the camp?
The limits of the rope bullfighting route, which define the camp, are marked by three white lines on the ground and a bullfighting sign. with rope handling, the shepherds try to ensure that the bull does not exceed these limits.
How long is the bull on the street?
The fight of each bull has a minimum duration of 15 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes.
Are there any rules for the parking and circulation of vehicles?
It is forbidden to park vehicles on the rope bullfighting course, as well as their circulation during the bullfight. In all parishes, on bullfighting days, there are alternative circulation routes.
Am I safe anywhere?
Not. Bearing in mind that this is a show with wild animals, certain aspects must be taken into account to safeguard their safety.
  • Arrive at the place where the bullfight will take place at least 30 minutes before the start of the bullfight;
  • If you arrive at the place and the bull has already left, it is necessary to wait before the risk until the bull is collected (after hearing the two rockets that signal the collection of the animal);
  • Watch the bullfight in a safe place. The owners of platforms, houses, balconies, normally offer a place to those who ask them to watch the bullfight on their property;
  • Watching the bullfight on the way can be dangerous; if you want to do so, it is important to keep an adequate distance from the bull, staying close to places where you can easily escape/protect yourself;
  • Be careful with the rope as it can be just as dangerous;
  • Be alert if you stay close to the risks, because with the coming of the bull in that direction, the cluster of people can generate situations of being run over;
  • If in doubt, ask the locals for help.
Rope bullfights October
Day 1 – C.Caldeiro – Cookies – E.R. – 17:00.
Day 1 – C.Mercês – Feteira – J.A.F. – 17:00.
Day 2 – C.Mercês – Feteira – F.P. – 17:00.
Day 2 – C.Capitão Mor – S.Mateus – A.L.F. – 17:00.
Day 3 – L.Church – Lajes – R.B. – 17:00.
Day 4 – L.Church – Lajes – J.A.F. – 17:00.
Day 5 – L.Church – Lajes – E.R. – 17:00.
Day 5 – Serra – Ribeirinha – A.J.F. – 17:00.
Day 5 – Terreiro – S.Mateus – H.F. – 17:00.
Day 6 – L.Church – Lajes – J.G. – 17:00.
Day 7 – L.Church – Lajes – J.G./E.R. – 17:00. (calf).
Day 8 – L.Church – Lajes – H.F. – 17:00.
Day 8 – R.Emigrante – S.Bartolomeu – J.G. – 17:00.
Day 8 – Bairro – Lameirinho – A.L.F. – 17:00.
Day 8 – Ponte Nova – Feteira – R.B. – 17:00.
Day 9 – L.Church – Lajes – F.P. – 17:00.
Day 9 – Fishing – S.Bartolomeu – F.H.F. – 17:00.
Day 14 – L.Cruz – P.Jew – F.P – 17h00.
Day 14 – Juncal – P.Vitória – H.F. – 17:00.
Day 14 – C.Santo António – P.Santo – F.H.F. – 17:00.
Day 15 – L.Cruz – P.Jew – F.H.F. – 17:00.
Day 15 – Bairro – T.Chã – E.G. – 17:00.
Day 15 – Areeiro – Fontinhas – E.R. – 17:00.
Day 15 – Terreiro – Serreta – E.R. – 17:00.
Source: Grupo – Touradas à Corda da Ilha Terceira