Thousands of animal rights activists staged a protest in Madrid on Saturday calling for an end to Spain’s long tradition of bullfighting.

The march went through the city centre with several groups united under one message: “Bullfighting is violence and you can stop it.”

Animal rights activists say the gory fights are among the world’s most blatant forms of animal cruelty, with bulls lanced and finally stabbed through the heart.

Matadors on the other hand are praised by their supporters for killing a bull with a single stab, though some do not succeed in finishing off the animal with repeated thrusts.

Protesters also demanded a change in the law under which animal cruelty would be subject to Spain’s criminal code.