These silent beings inhabit our streets, our busy boulevards, our shops and parks. They are historical, striking, funny, conventional, creative… And all of them were bound to become hallmarks. Some of them go unnoticed because they blend into the landscape. Others make us stop and admire the skill of the artists that made them come to life from stone, iron, marble… This is exactly what we are doing today: stop and admire the most beautiful and impressive sculptures in Spain.
We cannot talk about impressive sculptures in Spain without mentioning this collection of sculptures in Donostia-San Sebastián. The Comb of the Wind, also called “Peine del Viento” in Spanish and “Haizearen Orrazia” in Basque, is made of three pieces of steel. They lie at the far end of the city, on the cliffs facing the Cantabrian Sea, and they were created by Basque sculptor Eduardo Txillida. A must-see after walking along the beautiful beaches of this city that never fails to amaze us. The peculiar name of these sculptures reveals their artistic intention, alluding to the fact that the wind combs the waves when they enter the bay.
This surprising, original sculpture has become quite popular worldwide. Of course, we are talking about the pet of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. We are used to seeing stone and marble statues, but Puppy is different in that respect, since it is made of live flowers.
This floral sculpture, which portrays a Westie puppy, sits on a steel structure and it weights up to 16 tons. Puppy has become the travellers’ favourite place to pose for pictures, and some people believe it is the most famous artistic pet in the whole world.
Bilbao is also home to the counterbalance of the sweet Puppy. In fact, if we walk around the Guggenheim Museum, we will find a sculpture that is equally impressive and uncanny: an almost 9-metre-high spider made of bronze, marble and stainless steel. This artwork was designed by prestigious sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Those who have arachnophobia might not enjoy it very much, but the view is definitely striking, and it has become one of the most iconic pictures of the museum.
The tradition of the castells, which was declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, definitely deserved its own monument. These human towers are built every year in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community during their own festivities, and the people making up the towers are called castellers, and they are the main stars of this beautiful sculpture.
The Monument to the Castellers lies in Tarragona, Catalonia, and it was designed by artist Francesc Anglés. This sculpture is certainly striking, not only for its 11-metre height, but also due to the realistic way in which the magic of this human castle is portrayed in bronze. Not many people know this, but this sculpture hides a secret too: if we look closely to the faces of the castellers, we can find famous historical figures like Pablo Picasso or Joan Miró among them.
We could fill a whole list with the sculptures of Madrid, but we will only focus on the most remarkable ones: those that have become a symbol of the city. The first will be the sculptural work of the fountain or Cybele, or Fuente de Cibeles in Spanish, which is widely known for hosting the celebrations of the victories of the Real Madrid CF.
Architect Ventura Rodríguez designed this fountain portraying Cybele, goddess of earth, on a lion-driven carriage. It was Francisco Gutiérrez who chiselled the goddess and the carriage, whereas the artist behind the lions would be Roberto Michel.
The sculpture of El Oso y el Madroño, literally “The Bear and the Strawberry Tree”, has starred many songs and postcards so far. It was designed by Antonio Navarro Santafé, it is made of stone and bronze, and it has stood in Puerta del Sol since 1967. Due to its location at the city centre of Madrid, it is impossible not to come across it if you are in Spain’s capital. Indeed, not even the most disoriented traveller will fail to notice this representation of Madrid’s coat of arms.
Now we Will walk into one of the best museums in Madrid: the National Archaeological Museum, where we can find one of the most enchanting sculptures in Spain. It is Dama de Elche, or the “Lady of Elche”, a limestone bust dating back to the 5th-4th centuries BC. This Lady from Elche, Alicante, still compels us with its mysterious beauty.
If Puppy is the pet of the Guggenheim Museum, El Gato del Botero (“The Cat of the Bota Bag Maker”) is the mascot of the city of Barcelona. In fact, this bronze cat has been roaming around the city since 1987. However, it was not placed on its current location until 2003. We can find it in the street of La Rambla del Raval, where it has found a perfect home among both citizens and tourists.
If there is a place in Asturias to get surprised by its sculptures, it must be Oviedo. Its streets host fish sellers, depictions of motherhood, Asturian horse breeds, thinkers, gypsy women, lions, dancer… Each and all of those sculptures has blended so well into the urban landscape of Oviedo, that travellers cannot resist taking selfies next to them. There is even a sculpture route for tourists, where some of the most popular sculptures are the ones of Woody Allen, La Regenta and Mafalda.
Seville is home to a beautiful statue dedicated to a Romantic Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. This artwork rests at the park of María Luisa, under the branches of a large cypress tree, and it is made of marble and bronze. The Monument to Bécquer depicts a man lying on the floor, heartbroken, and Cupid stands over three ladies, each of them enacting a different kind of love: eager love, haunted love, and lost love.
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