The Toros de Guisando are the most famous examples of a type of pre-Roman figures that are very abundant in the Iberian Peninsula. There are several hundred similar sculptures carved in stone between the fourth and second centuries BC. They are works of the so-called Vetton people, an Iberian ethnic group from the Iron Age. In other words, we can consider it an ancient sculptural form of prehistoric art. And they are representations of animals such as bulls, pigs or wild boars, in different attitudes, but almost always large.
Toros de Guisando
However, as we say of all of them, the best known and most spectacular set is possibly that of the Toros de Guisando, located in the Castilian province of Ávila.
Today there are four great figures, although historical chronicles speak of a fifth bull that was here at least until the mid-16th century. They are carved in huge granite stones, since in all of them their length exceeds 2.5 meters in length and 120 centimeters in height. And they are identified with bulls, since there are a kind of indentations in the upper part of the heads where the horns could be placed. Although it is true that it cannot be guaranteed that it was not the representation of large stallion pigs or boars.
Historians have in recent years dated these four pieces to the 16th centuryII before Christ, and it is suspected that its initial location was not here, but that it would be in a nearby location. But they were moved here in Roman times, and even on the backs of the animals you can read some inscriptions in Latin.
The reason for its existence is unknown. Perhaps they were great monumental figures that, according to beliefs, acted as guardians of the cattle, keys to the survival of los vettones. Or perhaps they had a funerary and even religious use. The fact is that one can only speculate as to the function of these figures. Which have a truly primitive aspect, but it must also be recognized that their creators sought some realism in the representation.
But although it is not known with what intention they were created, the truth is that over the centuries they have become an inherent part of this place. And not only that, they have become historical and cultural references of Spain. Here, for example, theTreaty of the Toros de Guisandowas signed between King Henry IV of Castile and his sister Isabella, the future Catholic queen. Or the Toros de Guisando are very present in Spanish lyrics and references to them appear in works of the magnitude of Quijote de Cervantes, some theater work by Lope de Vegaor in the poetry of Federico García Lorca.