Madrid (AFP) - Spain's royal family joined politicians and the bullfighting world Sunday in mourning matador Ivan Fandino, gored to death in a fight in France.
The death of Fandino, a 36-year-old from the northern Basque region, was front page news in several newspapers in Spain, where interest in the controversial centuries-old tradition remains high.
The royals paid homage on their official Twitter feed to "a great bullfighting figure" while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lamented the "sad news," as did his culture minister.
Valencia torero Enrique Ponce also paid tribute to a fighter well-known for his daring.
"Dear Ivan, "Torerazo" (super torero), I shall always remember you ... those glorious afternoons. May God receive you in his glory."
French fighter Sebastien Castella wrote in Spanish that "death has taken a friend and in a sense a part of our souls."
Fandino died in hospital on Saturday after being gored in the ribs by a bull, whose horn punctured his lung, at the Aire-sur-l'Adour bullfighting festival in the south of France.
Fandino, who had won an earlier fight and cut off the bull's ear, was photographed being carried away from the scene by colleagues with blood seeping through his embroidered traditional costume.
Bullfighting retains its popular aura in Spain, which hosts hundreds of shows annually in a country of some six million "aficionados" who see it as a sport that is an art integral to their culture.
But recent years have seen opponents vociferously decrying it on animal rights grounds.
Only last month thousands attended a Madrid rally calling for the practice to be banned.
In 2010, the regional Catalan government voted for a ban -- but last year Spain's top court overturned that decision, judging that it was part of Spain's common cultural heritage