Exploring Spain: 33 Intriguing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

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1Pigeon population

Pigeon population

The city of Barcelona in Spain controls the pigeon population by mixing birth control chemicals with the birdseed.

2. The El Diablo Restaurant in Spain grills its food over a dormant volcano. A giant grill is laid across an opening, where 6 feet below, the volcano is softly bubbling lava at 400 degrees Celsius.

3. Spanish conquistadors in America didn't realize the true value and rarity of platinum and only cared about gold, but counterfeiters would use platinum to make fake gold and silver, so the Spaniards would dump any confiscated platinum into the sea to try and combat this forging problem.

4. In 1901, in Spain, a woman adopted a male identity (Elisa Sánchez Loriga) and married another woman (Marcela Gracia Ibeas). The couple was later discovered and had to escape to Argentina. Their marriage certificate was never annulled, so this is the first recorded same-sex marriage in Spain, 100 years before it was legal.

5. 450 years ago, King Charles V of Spain commissioned a mechanical monk, an automaton which was made to thank God for saving his son. This is one of the first robots ever made by humans. It still works to this day.

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6Spanish Cathedral

Spanish Cathedral

When a 16th-century cathedral in Salamanca, Spain was renovated in the early 1990s, ornate stone carvings of an astronaut and a gargoyle eating ice cream were added near the entrance.

7. The youngest king ever was Alfonso XIII of Spain, who became king the day he was born.

8. Around 700 people residing in the town of Coria del Rio in Spain are descended from 17th-century samurai who stayed there after an Japanese embassy was set up there. They have the surname “Japón”, which was originally “Hasekura de Japón.”

9. Madrid has one of the oldest running restaurants in the world named Sobrino de Botín which hasn’t closed its doors even once, since it was opened in 1725.

10. The 15th-century Islamic mosaics in Spain's Alhambra palace display a near-perfect understanding of mathematical logic and 16 of 17 types of symmetry identified by modern mathematicians.

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The whitewashed village of Juzcar, Spain used 4,000 liters of paint to turn the entire village blue for the release of Smurfs (2011). After the movie had been released, residents voted to keep it blue as it had helped increase tourism.

12. Spain's Paralympic basketball team were ordered to return their gold medals won in Sydney in 2000 after nearly all of their players were found to have no disability.

13. There is an island called Pheasant Island and it's owned by two countries. For the first 6 months of the year, it belongs to Spain and for the other six to France.

14. Spain's first documented serial killer, Manuel Romasanta, was raised a girl, till he was 6 because his parents thought he was a female.

15. Volunteers in Madrid watched for dog owners who didn’t pick up their dog’s poop, gathered the owner’s information by petting the dogs, then sent the poop to the owner’s home with a “lost and found” label. Mayor Borja Gutiérrez said, “It’s your dog poop. We are just returning it to you.”

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16Liver monument

Liver monument

Spain is the only country in the world that has a monument to the liver - "The silent and unselfish organ."

17. Conquistador Hernán Cortés founded a hospital in Mexico City to serve Aztec warriors who were wounded fighting the Spanish — and the hospital still operates today.

18. Charles II of Spain had a number of disabilities allegedly due to heavy inbreeding. The physician who performed his autopsy stated his body “did not contain a single drop of blood; his heart was the size of a peppercorn; his lungs corroded; he had a single testicle, black as coal...”

19. In the Pamplona Running of the Bulls, there have been 15 deaths since 1910. For safety, there are 16 posts with at least 1 doctor and 1 nurse each, and about 20 ambulances. A gored person can be stabilized and taken to a hospital in less than 10 minutes.

20. Juan Carlos I (former King of Spain) once told Hugo Chavez (Former President of Venezuela) to shut up (¿¡Por qué no te callas!?) when the Venezuelan leader called a former Spanish prime minister a "fascist" and "less human than snakes."

21Leaning Tower of Zaragoza

Leaning Tower of Zaragoza

There was a leaning tower named Leaning Tower of Zaragoza in Spain 100 feet taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa but it was demolished in 1892.

22. Gulliver Park is a playground in Valencia Spain where children and people can climb & slide on a massive play structure of the character Gulliver. This massive fiberglass Gulliver turns every visitor into a Lilliputian.

23. There is a town named Trigueros del Valle in Spain that recognizes cats and dogs as equal rights citizens.

24. There is a soccer team named Athletic Bilbao in Spain that since 1912 has only signed players who were born or raised in the Basque Country (where less than 7% of Spain's population live). Despite that, the team is one of the most successful teams in Spain and is one of the only teams never to be relegated.

25. In 2010, Spain held a siesta competition. It lasted 20 minutes and contestants were awarded points on the quality of their sleep, their positions, their snores, and even for their pajamas.

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