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La Línea Bullring “El Arenal” Restoration Set to be Completed in June

Soraya Fernández | Photos: ©Fran Montes,

The La Línea Bullring was declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” in 2005. 90% of the restoration works have already been carried out and completion is set for this coming June.

El Arenal La Linea bullring bullfight rennovation restoration

La Línea’s landmark has always been is its 49-sided polygonal bullring; the only one of its kind in the world. It was declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” (‘BIC’ in Spanish) in 2005 but has since suffered significant damage and humidity problems. This meant that renovation works were urgently needed while ensuring its true essence was maintained.

El Arenal La Linea bullring bullfight rennovation restoration

Funding for the works has been provided for under the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy (‘Edusi’) plan with an investment of €2,189,490, which will transform the site into a “multiuse” space with all its original qualities being preserved as the venue is adapted to meet with regulatory requirements.

In September 2019, the City Council of La Línea announced that they had signed a contract for the consolidation, rehabilitation and adaptation of the Bullring – with the company “Contratas y Obras San Gregorio S.A.” being awarded the contract for this project.

The €2.1 million investment (which includes VAT) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund as well as the City Council of La Línea.

The works were progressing well but in March 2020, when the Spanish government declared the “State of Alarm” due to Covid-19, all works on the site ceased.

This resumed a few months later, and the City Council has told ReachExtra that the project is now 90% finished, with a completion scheduled for June 2021.

The La Línea bullring will revert to its original name: “El Arenal” and will become a multiuse venue.

El Arenal La Linea bullring bullfight rennovation restoration

The goal is for the bullring to become a hub of culture, art and sports, with the capacity to host all kinds of events, which controversially includes bullfights. The project also seeks to revitalise the surrounding area of La Línea.

The project includes structural consolidation and reconstruction of the first floor, including the upper level and the roof which was demolished in the 70’s. The roof was designed in a late-baroque plaza style, which will now be restored.

Openings will be made to the lower sections of the building for cultural events with the aim of creating indoor facilities which can be used for events throughout the year.

El Arenal La Linea bullring bullfight rennovation restoration

The construction includes the consolidation of a quarter of the ring, surrounded by a metal perimeter. In addition to this, the grandstand has been restored to its original state, the reconstruction of the second tier of stands and a tiled roof.

The first phase involved improving the structural integrity of the bullring; consolidating the main walls and other elements like the stables and stables.

The second phase was the rehabilitation and expansion of the site which will enable the building to be used as a cultural venue. This saw the audience stands being rebuilt, the addition of the upper tier and new entrances.

This also included work on the roof, exterior cladding (both the facades and the stands) and inside the stairway and toilets, electricity, sanitation and plumbing.

Lift Access

El Arenal La Linea bullring bullfight rennovation restoration

Other noteworthy elements of the ring are the VIP box with embroidered curtains, the relocation of the infirmary to the main entrance, and adding two lifts for upper floor access.

Once the project is finished and as long as the pandemic and the advance of vaccination allow it, the building will have a capacity for 5,206 people, which would increase to 6,761 people when the arena itself is in use.

History of El Arenal

The La Línea de la Concepción bullring is a notable example of the rise of bullfighting in the 19th century.

Built in 1883, just a few years after the city was founded (1870), it fits the style of bullrings built in its time; like other bullrings erected in the Campo de Gibraltar which reflected the norm within Andalucía.

As highlighted in the plans, it is unique because not just because of its 59-metre diameter, but because of its extraordinary; boasting no less than 49 sides, making it an unusual building and presenting the construction company with new challenges.

This unusual shape makes it a unique bullring with an odd number of corners which radically differentiates it from other arenas.

“Ulysses”, by James Joyce

The bullring gained international fame at the time of its inauguration, and made an appearance in James Joyce’s famous novel “Ulysses”.

With an initial capacity of 7,000 people, it consisted of 3,500 seats and a standing capacity of 2,000, plus eight boxes for 16 people each and the presidential box. It was accessed through the 11 doors that were originally intended for the public.

The infirmary, operating room and bedroom maintain a certain level of equipment, although, according to regulations, the mobile ICU service will now be present next to the crews door, on the outside platform.

Among the events which were held here were a hot air balloon lift off, circus performances, acrobatics, comedy, football matches, boxing, political rallies, art shows and other social events and concerts.

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