Photographer's Note

Portuguese-style Bullfighting

Most Portuguese bullfights (corridas de touros) are held in two phases: the cavaleiro and the pega.

Beginning with the cavaleiro, an elegant horseman on a specially trained Lusitano horse, attempts to stab three or four bandeirilhas (small javelins) in the back of the bull.

The cavaleiro is followed by the pega which features the forcados, a group of eight men, who challenge the bull directly without protection or any weapon of defense. Standing single file and facing the bull, the front forcado provokes the bull to charge in order to perform a "pega de cara" (face catch). The front man secures the bull's head and is quickly aided by the other forcados who surround and restrain the animal until it is subdued.

The bull is not killed in the ring and, at the end of the corrida, leading oxen are let into the arena and two campinos on foot herd the bull along them back to its pen. The bull is usually killed, away from the audience's sight, by a professional butcher. Some bulls, after an exceptional performance, restored to health and then released to pasture for breeding.



Vila Franca de Xira (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvilɐ ˈfɾɐ̃kɐ dɨ ˈʃiɾɐ]) is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 317.7 km² and a total population of 133,224 inhabitants. Situated on the west bank of the River Tagus, just 32 km north-east of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, Vila Franca de Xira is said to have been founded by French followers of Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques, around 1200.

The town is mostly famous for its bull-running festivals in July and October. Bulls are raised in the salty marshlands of the Ribatejo, which is also a notable breeding ground for the magnificent Lusitano horse, esteemed for its quick reflexes and maneuverability.

A number of brightly-coloured Portuguese bullfighting costumes are on display in the ethnographic museum in the town's bullring, the Praça de Toiros (or Touros) Palha Blanco. Nearby, the town's Misericórdia church features striking 18th-century azulejos (glazed tiles).

3 km south of Vila Franca de Xira lies the Lezíria Grande Equestrian Centre, where visitors can watch stylish displays of the impressive Lusitano horses. The centre also stages typical bullfighting spectacles in its outdoor bullring. Visitors can ride Lusitano horses and take dressage lessons at the Quinta de São Sebastião, a sprawling estate at Arruda dos Vinhos, 11 km west of Vila Franca de Xira.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Image scanned from 35mm colour negative using an Epson V500 scanner.)

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