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Museums, Galleries, Music and More

Travelers discover a world of wonder when they embrace a destination's arts and culture. Whether you examine the Mona Lisa's mysterious smile in Paris, walk in soldiers' footsteps on Civil War battlefields or shimmy to live music in Nashville, cultural attractions can be the highlight of any vacation.

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Plaza de Toros, bull ring, bullring, Malaga, Spain
Málaga

Málaga

This stunning 1876 Mudéjar revival stadium, known as La Malagueta, seats more than 9,000 spectators. Visitors can also get a distant view into the ring from upper-level rooms at the adjacent Hotel Maestranza or along the steep walkway up to Málaga's castle ruins. A museum at the bullring is dedicated to the great 20th-century matador Antonio Ordoñez, who fought more than 1,000 bulls. 960 1280

Allan Baxter/The Image Bank/Getty Images   

Seville

Seville

First opened in 1761 but not fully completed until 1881, the landmark Real Maestranza is Spain's oldest bullring still in operation and one of its most prestigious. A fascinating tour goes behind the scenes to illuminate the history and artistry of the spectacle. 960 1280

Izzet Keribar/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images   

Madrid

Madrid

Built in the majestic Mudéjar revival style in 1929, Las Ventas is Spain's largest bullring. Some 25,000 spectators crowd into every event to see the country's top matadors face the best bulls. When there's not a bullfight, visitors can tour the ring with an audio guide. 960 1280

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Ronda

Ronda

Inaugurated in May 1785, Ronda's Real Maestranza bullring was the home turf of Pedro Romero, the superstar matador of the late 18th century and a favorite subject of the painter Goya. Each September, the Goyesca Festival includes a day of bullfights in 18th-century costume. The colorful museum traces the evolution of bullfighting from the mythical past to contemporary matadors. 960 1280

Ayhan Altun/Gallo Images/Getty Images   

Pamplona

Pamplona

Ernest Hemingway made the Running of the Bulls famous in The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon. On the mornings of the San Fermin Festival in July, hundreds of spectators run through the streets with 6 bulls and 6 steers. Their destination is the city’s 1922 ring, where the bulls will meet their fate in the afternoon. 960 1280

Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images   

Mijas

Mijas

The small oval bullring with seats at each end is a good example of the old-fashioned bullrings that used to be in every Andalusian village. Already a popular tourist destination, Mijas fills up with tour buses every weekend from Easter until October to give Costa del Sol visitors a taste of authentic bullfighting. 960 1280

Lattitude Stock/Patrick Ford/Gallo Images/Getty Images  

El Puerto de Santa Maria

El Puerto de Santa Maria

The 12,000-seat stadium in this small sherry-making town on the Bay of Cadiz is one of the sport's most celebrated venues — in part because it's in the heart of bull-breeding country and gets some of the fiercest animals. Built in 1880, the building is noted for the beautiful ceramic tiles around its exterior. 960 1280

Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images   

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera

Originally the home of chivalric bullfighting from horseback, Jerez eventually embraced the Ronda style, in which the matador faces the bull with only his cape and sword. The major bullfighting season at this 1894 bullring coincides with the Horse Fair in May. 960 1280

Europa Press/Getty Images   

Granada

Granada

This majestic Mudéjar revival bullring from 1928 has a grand entrance and 3 soaring levels. Several popular restaurants and bars fill its exterior walls. Like those in Seville and Ronda, the Granada arena is a rare bullring still operated by one of the regional Royal Cavalry societies (Real Maestranza de Caballeria) created by King Felipe II in the 17th century. 960 1280

Jose Luis Roca/AFP/Getty Images   

Linares

Linares

Most hard-core fans of the corrida, or “bullfight,” eventually come to see a program in the 1867 bullring of Linares. A bronze statue out front memorializes the great matador Manolete, who was fatally gored here in 1947, setting off 3 days of official national mourning. 960 1280

Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images   

Valencia

Valencia

Bullfighting in Valencia dates back to Neolithic times, and even in more recent centuries, fights took place in public squares with temporary fencing. Opened in 1859, this 10,500-seat bullring, which is modeled on the Roman Colosseum, starts the season earlier than most, with bullfights during the Las Fallas festival in March. 960 1280

Allan Baxter/The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Bilbao

Bilbao

Although bullfighting is often associated with southern Spain, Bilbao has an enthusiastic fan base for the spectacle, as well as the largest bullring in the Basque Country. The original 1882 stadium burned down in 1961 and was replaced the next year by the unabashedly modern Plaza de Toros de Vista Alegre, which seats more than 14,000 people. 960 1280

Blom UK/Getty Images   

Barcelona

Barcelona

A favorite concert venue of the late, great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, Plaza de Toros Las Arenas ceased to hold bullfights in 1977, long before the government of Catalonia outlawed the spectacle. In 2011, it was transformed into the 6-story Arenas de Barcelona shopping center by British architect Richard Rogers. 960 1280

Robert Marquardt/Getty Images   

Wife-Carrying Competition
Wife-Carrying Competition

Wife-Carrying Competition

First introduced in Sonkajärvi, Finland, wife carrying is a sport in which male competitors race through obstacles while each carrying a female teammate -- not necessarily their wife. Different types of carrying are included in the competition: piggyback, fireman's carry, or Estonian-style (pictured here). Major wife-carrying competitions are held in Sonkajärvi (where the prize is the woman’s weight in beer), Hong Kong, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Swamp Soccer

Swamp Soccer

Swamp soccer is exactly what it sounds like: soccer played in a swamp or bog. It began as an exercise routine for soldiers since the squishy ground makes the sport more demanding, but it has since grown with the Swamp Soccer World Championship played annually on Vuorisuo Bog in Hyrynsalmi, Finland. 960 1280

Visit Finland  

Tar Barrels Festival

Tar Barrels Festival

The town of Ottery St Mary, England, holds annual events around Guy Fawkes Night. The festivities include a 17th-century tradition of carrying barrels soaked in tar and set on fire while racing through the town. The barrels can only be carried by those born in Ottery St Mary or those who have lived there for most of their lives, with generations of the same family often competing through the years. 960 1280

Hans Zinsli, flickr  

Extreme Ironing

Extreme Ironing

Extreme ironing is part extreme sport and part performance art. The competition involves taking an ironing board to a remote location and ironing clothing. It all started in 1997 in Leicester, England, by resident Phil Shaw when he wanted to go rocking climbing instead of doing house chores … so he decided to combine them. It has grown into a worldwide phenomenon with participants vying for the most extreme locale -- ironing on mountainsides, in streets and even underwater. 960 1280

b1lue5ky, flickr   

ClauWau Championship

ClauWau Championship

From November 25-26, more than 100 Santa Clauses gather in Samnaun, Switzerland, to compete in ClauWau, the Santa Claus World Championship. Competitors sled, sculpt, deliver presents and climb chimneys, like those pictured here. 960 1280

Andy Mettler  

Mobile Phone Throwing

Mobile Phone Throwing

Mobile phone throwing is yet another sport that originated in Finland. It began in 2000 and has since grown internationally. Competitors throw mobile phones and are judged on distance or technique. The phones used vary, but they must be heavier than 7 oz. The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are held annually in Savonlinna, Finland. 960 1280

Visit Finland  

Air Guitar Championships

Air Guitar Championships

The first air guitar competitions were held in the 1980s in Sweden and the US and have since continued to grow internationally. The Air Guitar World Championships Network, made up of 20 countries including Finland, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, Romania and Brazil, among others, organizes the competitions -- which follow a sophisticated scoring system. On a 6-point scale, competitors play for 2 1-minute rounds and are judged on technical merit, mimesmanship, stage presence and artistry. 960 1280

Pasi Lehtinen   

Empire State Building Race

Empire State Building Race

Held annually since 1978, the Empire State Building Run-Up is a foot race where participants run from the building’s ground floor to the 86th-floor observation deck, covering a vertical distance of 1,050 feet in 1,576 steps. The racers like to think of themselves as both runners and climbers. The current record time is 9 minutes and 33 seconds, achieved by Australian professional cyclist Paul Crake in 2003. 960 1280

Getty Images   

International Cherry Pit Spitting Contest

International Cherry Pit Spitting Contest

Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, MI, holds the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship every year. At this year’s annual championship, the winner claimed the title with a spit of 69 feet. 960 1280

  

Egg-Throwing Championship

Egg-Throwing Championship

Held annually in Swaton, England, since 2006, the Egg-Throwing Championship is presented by the World Egg Throwing Federation and is followed up by a beer festival of 12 types of ale from Swaton, Heckington and Sleaford microbreweries. 960 1280

World Egg Throwing Federation  


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