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Posted on Jul 17, 2013 in Spain, Where in Spain Wednesday | 16 comments

WISW: Spain’s Osborne Bulls

This week for Where in Spain Wednesday, here’s a pic I snapped from the car on my recent road trip to the Basque Country – one of the black bull silhouettes dotting the Spanish countryside. 


It’s one of the famous Osborne bulls. What does that mean? Osborne is a sherry company with a bull logo for a type of brandy. They also had the brand name splashed across them originally, but it was blacked out after a Spanish law banned ads by the side of the road. It was a pretty sneaky way to keep the bulls up! They’ve transitioned from ads to unofficial symbols of Spain.

If you’ve ever taken a road trip in Spain, chances are you’ve spotted an Osborne bull.  Well, depending on where you go, actually. This one was either in the Basque Country or Navarra (I’m not sure where exactly we were driving), but both regions only have one bull, so I was pretty lucky to see it.

Not surprisingly, there are zero in Catalunya, as large displays of “typical Spanish” pride are often seen as mildly repressive at best and fascist at worst. The last standing bull was torn down in 2007 by a group of Catalan independence supporters who spent 3 hours taking down the 14-meter bull, then took some extra time to enjoy stamping on it for good measure (El País).

Have you ever seen an Osborne bull?




  1. In Los Angeles county we have a silhouette of Clint Eastwood in cowboy gear. Luckily he wasn’t selling anything. ;o)

    • Haha I didn’t know that! I grew up in Riverside, so not too far away. Where is the Clint silhouette?

      • In the hills above Glendale. He was joined by John Wayne for a while and, more importantly, an empty chair. . . ;o)

  2. We saw a couple of these by the road as we were busing from Salamanca to Vallalodid, and again driving from Aguilar de Campoo to Burgos. In the US a tequila maker has adopted this symbol for their premium brand (not sure what the connection is)

    • Interesting! I had no idea about the tequila. I’ll have to look into that, thanks for letting me know about it.

  3. Absolutely loving your blog, Jessica! We just returned from Andalucía where we sketched Los Pueblos Blancos for a couple of weeks. It killed us to leave! Anyhow, keep up the good work.

    • Thanks very much! What a gorgeous place to spend some time sketching. I know the feeling of it being hard to leave Spain; I think I cried almost my entire flight back to California when I left Barcelona the first time! :)

  4. I have seen a number of these buls when travelling around Spain. The first time I saw one I was thrilled. It was later when I learned how they came about. Your picture is very good

    • Thanks, Darlene! I thought they were more in the way of art than advertising originally. I was surprised to find out later what they really were!

    • Ahh, a case of great minds think alike! :) They are much more of a novelty for me up here.

      I had a fab time on my trip – thanks very much!

  5. I’m so glad there is no one left in Catalonia… I cringe* when I see one…

    *this is the word it came to my mind, but I’m not sure is the appropiate one. What I meant to say is that they cause some sort of dislike reaction on me…

    • Yes, I’ve definitely heard that from a lot of Catalans! For me, it doesn’t have quite an emotional experience but I get why.

      (I think “cringe” works here, by the way, although we more often use it with embarrassing situations. :) )

      • Yes, the examples I found on internet dictionaries were with embarrassing situations… But I couldn’t think of a more fitting word… Any suggestions? 😉

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