What Spanish Street Signs Reveal About Spaniards

Street sign in Madrid

Spaniards care less about functionality than the Americans do

American street signs, in general, are out in the streets, where it is easy for both pedestrians and drivers to see, and all of them are completely uniform within the area: same height above the ground, same font, same color, etc. Spanish street signs are attached to the buildings at different heights, and have different fonts, pictures, and styles. Apparently, they care more about aesthetics and tradition rather than efficiency.

Below, you will see the standard American street sign, taken in Boston and New York. It is very simple, written in sans serif, and evokes the image of letters written with chalk on a blackboard. Some may not think it is attractive, but it is certainly legible.

Here are some Spanish street signs from Madrid.

Madrid Street Sign Calle de las Hielas Photo

Note that the fonts are different in the following pictures- The street signs indicate that exact same street in the same city. You will often see two street signs in different styles right next to each other, or right on top of each other.

Madrid Street Sign Calle de San Milan Photo

In the picture below, you will see that in the newer street sign, the words “calle de” and “traviesa” are written in two different fonts.

Madrid Street Sign Calle de Traviesa Photo

I wonder why the street signs do not abbreviate “calle” to “c/” as Spaniards normally do in everyday life. Everyone knows that it is a street sign, so why is the word “street” the most visible word?

I saw another version of the street sign above a block away.

Christianity has deep roots in Spain.

All you have to do is read the names of the streets as demonstrated above.

The last thing that we can learn, or rather extrapolate, about the Spaniards is that they speak quickly. I can attest that this is true. The names of the streets in Spain are rather long compared to those in other countries. I remember in Boston, for example, Commonwealth Avenue, with only three syllables in Commonwealth, is shortened to Comm Ave, and Massachusetts Avenue is shortened to Mass Ave. In Spain, people generally pronounce the whole name (including the word “street”), but they manage to fit in nine syllables in the same amount of time that Americans pronounce two.

Madrid Street Sign Plaza de Marina Española Photo

Although all of the Spanish street signs above are located in Madrid, after visiting 10 + Spanish cities, I conclude that all of the street signs are haphazard throughout the country. They are interesting to look at, and have a lot of character, but I do get annoyed when I have little time to get to an unfamiliar place.