Hemingway visit to Bilbao

The Bull fighting arena of Vista Alegre in Bilbao received several visits of Ernest Hemingway. The writer & traveler suggested this bull ring as a complement to those nearby such as Pamplona, San Sebastian, Biarritz & St. Jean-de-Luz.

However, the biggest reason to recommend this bull ring, was the size of the bulls here. Considering that in Bilbao bulls were more important than bullfighters.

It is told that Hemingway was several times. Once it was before writing his novel "Death in the Afternoon", published in 1932. But there are students saying that Hemingway was in Bilbao on 1927 (from August 21st to 24th) and on 1931. In this book, he explains about the bullfighting posters and explains that there are 2 bullfights on the beginning of May. He also says that "in May it will be not as hot as in August. If you are not afraid about humid heat and you want to see huge bulls, then you have to go to Bilbao during August bullfighting"

He also says "Bilbao is a mining town, rich and ugly, where it can be as hot as in St Louis, MO, and where bulls are admired and not bullfighters. If people like a torero in Bilbao, they will get bigger and bigger bulls for him until he gets injured physically or mentally and then Bilbao bullfight lovers would say: Finally all bullfighters are the same: cowards & fake."

If you want to see how big these bulls are, you can see one in the Bullfighting Museum of Bilbao. Their horns can easily pass over your shoulder.

Nowadays in Bilbao bull ring, you can see a plaque speaking about the visit that the American writer Hemingway made here.

Unfortunately, you can not see the same bull ring where Hemingway saw these bulls, because only 2 months after the death of Hemingway, in 1961, as if the bull ring became furious for the tragic loss of this writer and wanted to follow him eternally.

On 1959 Hemingway turned back (they say that due to the report that Life asked him to write). He was writting then his last book: "The Dangerous Summer" The last chapter of this novel happens in Bilbao (on Saturday, August 21st 1959) and ends with a situation between two famous bull fighters: Antonio Ordonez & Luis Miguel Dominguin. "Antonio (Ordonez) wanted to fight in Bilbao, the most difficoult bullring of Spain, where bulls are bigger, the public more strict and tough"
"Bilbao is an industrial & navy city between mountains in the banks of a river. It is rich, big, solid and either hot and humid, or cold and humid. The countryside around is really beautiful with nice small rivers along the country. It is a city with many money and with great athletes where I had a lot of friends."

Only in 15 years between "Death in the Afternoon" and "The Dangerous Summer", the view of Bilbao went better. But that was not the end of the evolution of Bilbao, which has become an example for many cities with his, so called "Guggenheim Effect".

If you want to learn more about Hemingway in Bilbao, check out this post: A luxury Travel to Bilbao by Ernest Hemingway.

And for a tailored visit to this surprising city to learn about this and other stories, do not hesitate to contact your Basque Private Tour Guide.