Santa Cruz da Graciosa Bullring – Santo Amaro, Portugal - Atlas Obscura
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Santo Amaro, Portugal

Santa Cruz da Graciosa Bullring

This Portuguese bullring is built right into the caldera of an island volcano. 

Looming over the small island town of Santa Cruz da Graciosa the inactive volcano known as the Monte da Nossa Senhora da Ajuda (Mount of Our Lady of the Help) is a lush natural feature that is dotted with chapels. However the most interesting feature on the hill is in the formerly fiery caldera where the locals have used the natural shape to create a bullfighting ring. 

Calderas are already nature’s bullring of a sort where powerful natural forces clash and tumble in a violent display, to say nothing of the naturally conical shape. So it makes all the sense in the world that an actual bullfighting pen would eventually be built in one. By levelling the ground at the bottom of the shallow bowl atop the volcano, and simply building rings of bleachers right into the slopes, the townspeople at the base of the hill were able to create a low cost but effective space for their traditional, if controversial, sport. 

The road up to the ring twists through the dense foliage now covering the entirety of the volcano and leads straight into the main entrance. While everything else on the dormant hill has a sort of religious significance, the unique bullfighting ring is surprisingly secular, although the brutal sport that takes place inside of it is often worshipped with a reverence approaching the holy.