Categorized | People

Spain’s cities (and their people) in a nutshell

Posted on 08 March 2012 by American expat!


Quick profiles of popular cities and their people in Spain

Here is a list of the largest cities in Spain with a generalized–and somewhat stereotypical, I will admit, though I’m just telling it like it is–description of each.


Great street life, beautiful monuments in the city although it was a only village just a couple of centuries ago. Many trees and parks, great culture, unprecedented nightlife, great travel infrastructure, tons of immigrants, horrendous traffic, noise and pollution, general quick pace of life. Most of the ancestors of Madrid people (Madridites? Madridians?) are from other parts of Spain, though they act superior for living in Spain’s capital when they visit their places of origin. They are politically polarized to the extreme right and extreme left.


A compact city trapped between the sea, two rivers and mount Tibidabo. Before the Olympic games it was an ugly industrial hub, it is now a modern and beautiful city after renovations and the restoration of it’s modernist architecture in the center. Ancient Roman port city. Is in a rivalry with Madrid to be Spain’s first city. Jaded with tourists. Many international businesses and expats, conventions, marathons, bike races and sports. Extremely liberal, with lots of  anarchists, separatists, okupas (squatters), dirty hippie types (AKA perroflautas) who refuse to speak Spanish. Or work.

Dirty hippie types that beg with a dog and a flute. Actively protest whatever is being protested.



The wealthiest region of Spain and also the starting place of the Spanish civil war. Weather is cloudy and rainy much of the year. People are friendly and proud of being from Bilbao. Deindustrialized after the mid-1990s and now boasts designs by several of the world’s most renowned architects and artists. Fascinating history.


The third largest city in Spain and incidentally one of three cities that has rapidly increasing foreign born population (Barcelone and Madrid being the other two). Another deindusrialized city that now holds Santiago Calatrava architecture, wide avenues with palm trees. A Port city. Conservative, obsessed with fashion and physical appearance. Great parties. Cool graffiti.


Once the most important city in Spain. Big, fabulous, ancient part of the city in the center. Surrounding the old center are boring housing blocks. One of the most dangerous districts in all of Europe is in Seville. People can be divided into: Pijos – wealthy and deeply religious people, Canis – guidos or chavs who wear tracksuits, gold rings and love flamenco, and Perroflautas. Many aristocrats live here.

Spanish canis



An even quicker rundown of the remaining major cities in Spain:

Zaragoza: Fast-growing city, dynamic, great parties, funny accent.

Pamplona: Mix of blue-collar workers and Opus Dei (probably the only cult in Europe) fellows. Wealthy, high quality of life. Important university.

Málaga: Port city, nice beaches, many retired Europeans.

Granada: The Alhambra, gypsies, hippies, graffiti.

Murcia: Fast-growing, very conservative, lack of water, urban sprawl.

Valladolid: Typical Castilian city. Pijos, conservative politics. Automobile industry.

San Sebastián: Palaces, French architecture, fabulous beaches and high quality of life. Aristocracy and surfers.

Jerez: Not a major city, but I’ve spent a lot of time here. Sherry, horses, motorcycle racing. Rabid Catholicism though seemingly just for show.


4 Comments For This Post

  1. Mr Grumpy Says:

    Very funny, and so true !
    Why does it always seem that Spain is culturallt one of the most diverse countries on the planet ?

  2. Fiona Flores Watson Says:

    Interesting evaluation of Seville. If you ever need to hear a resident’s view, feel free to ask me – I’ve been living here for eight years. Being a guiri, I’m neither a pijo or a cani, but I have been to one of the most dangerous districts in Europe which you mention. Most expats who live here have never even heard of it.

  3. Jassmila Says:


    Ugly, industrial, polluted city. —–> That maybe was true 20 years ago, but nowadays bilbao is a beautiful city, thanks to our major that was elected best major of the WORLD, just last week. So maybe you want to visit bilbao, and see for yourself. Viva Bilbao, los bilbainos y el txakoli!

  4. American expat! Says:

    Jassmila – you are RIGHT. This post was written with assistance, evidently someone who has not been there in a long time! I have since been there and I am updating this post – because it really is a beautiful city with lovely architecture.

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