Lonely Planet Writer

Cities in Spain are changing street names and dedicating them to women

Spain is renaming many of its streets after women. In Spain, less than 10% of streets are currently inspired by women, and it’s generally saints and nuns who get the nod – not exactly representative of modern Spanish women. ‘It’s almost as if the situation is the practical confirmation of the popular saying – that a woman’s place is not in the street, but in the house,’ Professor Patricia Arias Chachero told El Diario.

Street in Cordoba, Spain.
Street in Cordoba, Spain. Image by Getty Images

In some cities, progress has been faster than in others – in 2005 Córdoba stipulated that half of all new street names must honour women. The trend has increased this year: in León, residents voted in November for women to name streets after. The contenders included Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Jane Austen and the most popular candidate, León native Ángela Ruiz Robles, who invented a prototype for the electronic book reader in 1949.

Street sign in Bilbao.
Street sign in Bilbao. Image by Getty Images

Valencia, Bilbao, Oviedo and Cadiz are also going ahead with name changes. In Valencia, four out of five new streets must bear a woman’s name. In one part of town, eight streets are currently being renamed, with the public choosing between iconic women such as Marie Curie, Rosa Luxemburg and Spanish author Carmen Martín Gaite.

Valencia street to be named after Spanish author Carmen Martín Gaite.
Valencia street to be named after Spanish author Carmen Martín Gaite. Image by Getty Images

The initiative ties in with an effort in recent years to remove links to the regime of General Franco, who was supported by Hitler. In Madrid, a street named after fascist general Andrés Saliquet will be renamed Calle de Soledad Cazorla, according to City Lab. Ms Cazorla was the first Spanish prosecutor to specialise in gender violence.

Spain’s 2007 Historical Memory Law formally denounced the regime of Franco, who died in 1975, and aimed to eliminate links to it. However, it was largely unenforced until 2015 when liberal gains in local government saw the election of municipal officials who were keen to remove ties.