A Spanish Road Drive from Madrid to Zaragoza

Road Trips in Spain was fun. One of the main reasons was spotting the huge black bulls over the horizon. We were on the last phase of our journey. After spending 2 nights in Madrid we set off for Barcelona.

Keeping up with my craze to visit UNESCO Heritage sites I managed to fit in Zaragoza into the itinerary. Zaragoza and Teruel together form one UNESCO World Heritage site of Spain. A diversion to Teruel would have meant further delay in reaching Barcelona. And all we had was max. 2 hours during which we had to include lunch time too. We focused just on the cathedral of Zaragoza… more about it in another post. This post is on road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza.

Air Europa

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Road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza

Our stay at Madrid Holiday Inn was restful. And next early morning with our tummies full we set off for Zaragoaza (a rhyming kind of name I thought). Just as we were exiting MadridΒ  towards Barcelona via Motor Highway A-2 this Air Europa plane grazed overhead, its wheels out, about to land at Madrid airport. It is best to leave such big cities early morning before the mad traffic catches up. The distance of 315kms was done in approx 4 hours with a small break during the journey.

The direct route A-2 is devoid of beautiful sights of Castilian villages; nevertheless here and there we did spot some castles and cathedrals. We traveled in May when the summer was just setting in. The β€˜vast plains’ was mostly drab, though there were some soothing green patches here and there.

Castle near Torre del Burgo

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Osborne Bulls

Best part of the trip as I mentioned before was when the big black bull of highway would appear? These Osborne bulls have an interesting story:

The Osborne sherry company (founded by Thomas Osborne Mann in 1772) erected large images of bulls starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. The images were black advertising boards located near major roads throughout Spain. The original image was smaller and slightly different in design. The current larger image was created to comply with a law that prohibited advertising within 150 metres of a road.

road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza

Osborne Bull

In 1994 the EU passed a law that prohibited all roadside advertising of alcoholic beverages, and the bulls were therefore to be removed. By this time the signs were nationally renowned, so although some campaigners wished them completely removed to fully comply with the intent of the law, public response resulted in the signs being retained, but completely blacked out to remove all reference to the original advertisers.

The Court eventually allowed these signs to remain on the grounds that they have become a part of the landscape and have “aesthetic or cultural significance”, thus turning the bulls into public domain images.

Throughout the entire stretch of 315kms to Zaragova from Madrid we could spot 6 bulls. Just one out of them had its back to us. Btw there are 91 such bulls scattered all over Spain. How many have you seen?

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road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza

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Visit to Cathedral of San Salvador Zaragoza, Spain
Tour of Prado Museum, Spanish National Art Museum, Madrid

56 Responses to “A Spanish Road Drive from Madrid to Zaragoza

  • Great post on Spain! As a Filipino it’s one of those places I wanted to see because of the strong cultural connection. I love the hills that you showed because it reminded me of our Chocolate Hills. Plus I’ve always wanted to see bull riding in person.

  • Oh , I loved that post. I live in Spain , well , not on the mainland, I live on the Canary Islands. But I have been to Spain so often and I just love that country, the scenery , the authenticity. I have visited the Osborne distillery and drove these roads. Lovely to see it all again.Great post

  • A great road trip, and I love the bull silhouette!

  • That’s quite an interesting story about the bull. Who would have thought that a brand / ad can become a tourist attraction.

  • Nice informative post. Beautiful pics.

  • One of my dream destinations is Spain. I would love to visit this country. I want to see Castilian villages too. πŸ™‚ Got to save up for this dream vacation!

  • Wow! I thought it’s for real

  • Location and images of the bull look so good and interesting!

  • Interesting bulls πŸ™‚
    Nice pictures. TC, keep smiling πŸ™‚

  • I am so envious of you for taking a road trip overseas. I’d love to do that in Spain too.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  • I love castles, cathedrals, and historic structures! I find you lucky to be able to see them! πŸ™‚ I think bulls are really symbolic in Spain because they have held bull fights all over the years. The trip looks super fun.

  • Interesting road trip article. The bulls are really cool. Glad you enjoyed the drive. Spain is such a beautiful country.

  • Love the post and the explanation of the bulls. Central Spain is an area we really want to explore. We may have a chance to visit Zaragoza soon.

  • Great post about Spain.
    We’ve done a roadtrip in June, but in Catalania, so next time we might visit Madrid and Zaragoza πŸ™‚

  • I now finally know what those big black bulls are. I drove from Palamos in Costa Brava to Madrid thru Zaragoza and saw several of these bulls. Everybody on the trip was wondering.

  • Seemed like a chilled little drive! I’m surprised to see how much Spain looks like New Mexico in those photos!

  • That’s a lot of bull. I imagine there are people tracking all 90+ bulls on some google map and ticking off the ones they’ve seen. Neat cultural practice.

  • This looks like a Spanish road trip full of adventure and excitement. Those big black bulls are cool and I’m sure the food along the way is amazing. Do you have to speak Spanish to enjoy it?

  • Like you said is possible look bulls everywhere in Spain; I have been many times in Spain, pretty easy for Sardinian people, and I have actually seen many bulls on the road. I took some pictures of them as well and I remember one just outside Barcelona! keep writing posts, this one is interesting like the others!
    Big hug πŸ˜€

  • I love to this kind of road trip! I love Spain, it reminds me of home. On my visit to Barcelona, I didn’t get the chance to see any Bulls. Maybe, this could be another excuse to visit Spain.

  • I enjoyed your bull’s backstory. I’m interested to see Spain and much of Europe, actually. Seemed like a real cool May road trip to Zaragoza. 315km in 4 hours. That’s fast! πŸ™‚

  • Looks like a great spot for a road trip–we love road trips, so this would be right up our alley. Very interesting story about the Osborne Bulls! Love the photos you got of them too!

  • I adore road trips, unfortunately, I don’t have my driving licence!! There’s just something totally freeing about stocking up a car with snacks and blankets, the windows down the radio on. I’m sure you got sick of hearing ‘Sofia’ on the radio!

  • The trips sound fascinating. Of course, the Osborne Bulls seem to tower over everything. The historic buildings of Spain and its ancient culture is something else that beckons me to this historic land.

  • What a fun road trip! Spain has been on my list for a long time, so definitely adding this one to the list. Had no idea about the number of bulls, so interesting.

  • Yogi Saraswat
    12 months ago

    National highways are called motor highways ? The bulls , as , you mentioned , present everywhere on the road but total are 92 in entire Spain , I think most of the bulls present around this road ? Great pictures

  • Maniparna Sengupta Majumder
    12 months ago

    The silhouette of the bull is wonderful…it’s hard to believe it’s not real!

  • Interesting transformation of these bull boards from the original cause to landmarks significance! Really cool shots

  • What an incredible road trip! LOVE the bull silhouette. I think that would definitely give me a fright driving past that.

  • blair villanueva
    12 months ago

    Wow I would like to visit Spain coz its part of our Filipino culture. That bull statue is very distracting, good thing its in high way.

  • What a connection between the bulls and Spain! Interesting read. And yes, I am also affected by the craze of UNESCO sites!

  • Good read! I love the story of the bulls silhouettes! I’ll try to see as many as possible next time to Spain πŸ™‚

  • How many bulls are scattered around Spain really? To tell you the truth, we saw only a couple. Is that strange?

  • Thank you for telling the Osborne bulls story. Now it all makes sense, I have seen one while I was going from Malaga to Granada and I wondered why was it there and what was it’s purpose. Interesting πŸ™‚

  • Interesting Tidbit about those bulls. I have not been to Spain and hence have not seen any as yet but am sure to keep an eye out for them whenever I see some pictures or head there myself.

  • Such an interesting thing to know about ! Great narration and loved the pics !

  • I love all the bulls that are just hanging out! It would certainly make me do a double take every time I was to see one! I love that the bulls have turned into public domain.

  • 91 such bulls all over Spain!
    Have to visit to spot some there πŸ™‚

  • Wow, nice pictures. The bull story is quite interesting.

  • Great pictures. It was interesting to read about the road trip πŸ™‚

  • 91 bulls would have taken a bit of time to scatter around. I wonder if someone has seen all 91 of them through their drives!

  • 91 bulls? How cool is that! Must be fun spotting them all over the city. I have never been to Europe and everytime I visit your blog, I leave with a desire even more strong to travel to that part of the world πŸ™‚

  • Your road-trip experience was a wonderful read πŸ™‚

  • I remember a few years ago when I was younger, you could spot the Osborne bulls all over Spain. Nowadays, even though there’s still lots of them, they’re not that common, such a pity! It brings me back incredible memories of the road trips during my childhood πŸ™‚

  • Wonderful post Indraniji, loved the way you described the entire road trip !

  • I love your love UNESCO heritage sites I now am taking more notice of them and want to visit all in every corner of the world.Roadtrips are always fun and a great way to explore. Those Bulls and their story is rather interesting.Thank you for sharing.

  • Laveena Sengar
    12 months ago

    It takes a lot of planning to execute a perfect road trip that is fun. I love to travel by road and it is always a trip to remember. The pictures are just awesome.

  • Looks like you had an amazing road trip! Have never been to Spain but will definitely keep in mind to check bulls on the way whenever I’ll be heading there. You’ve also captured bull’s shots very nicely!

  • I’ve never been to Spain but now when I know about the history of bull standing on highways, I can share this knowledge and by the way 91 is a huge count to cover.

  • Spain is where my family comes from and I love how easy the roads are there, perfect for any road trip! Those bulls have been there for a while I think? I’ve got memories of seeing some! Could be a fun roadtrip to try and see all of them!

  • The story behind that bull is quite interesting! Spain some day…really want to explore this laid back yet vibrant country soon!

  • Those Osborne bulls are amazing.

  • Ahh Spain is on our bucket list! I love your post. We are currently roadtrippin’ in Portugal and it’s more than amazing πŸ™‚

  • I really love roadtrips as well. I like the photo of the castle that you shared as well as the photos of the bulls. Spain has so much to offer I surmise. I wish we can go roadtrip there as well one day. Roadtrips are especially nice in Europe because the roads are easy to navigate.

  • As someone who has taken a lot of road trips, I can relate to the excitement of stumbling along a fun roadside attraction like the bull you discovered. It’s really big and detailed too!

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