Thousands of bullfighting fans have gathered in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia to protest against subsidy cuts they say threaten the age-old spectacle and to defend what they describe as "culture."

Valencia's government says over 10,000 participants marched to the city's bullring Sunday.

Regional politicians, ranchers and renowned bullfighters such as Julian "El Juli" Lopez Escobar, Jose Antonio "Morante de la Puebla" and Jose Ortega Cano attended.

Matador Enrique Ponce addressed the crowd, saying "we cannot allow our traditions to be branded evil and cruel" because of "spurious economic interests."

A new generation of government officials in Spain is questioning whether it isn't better to invest in education rather than bullfights, and European Union lawmakers recently declared their opposition to using farm subsidies to raise cattle for bullfighting.