The Osborne Bull is recognised by many as one of the stereotypical images of Spain. Indeed, this iconic figure can be found on many cars in the form of bumper stickers. If you spot one by the roadside though, it will be a huge advertising board which once displayed the name of its founder, the Osborne sherry company of Jerez.
The bulls can be found in most parts of the country as the map below illustrates. A more interactive map can be found here, but be warned, it doesn’t always load correctly first time so you may need some patience.
Black can be a bit boring though. On the salt flats of Santa Pola, near Alicante, a local artist once decorated the Osborne Bull in the colours of the Palestine flag, presumably in support of the people of that nation.
Now that same bull has a very interesting look. A local street artist named Sam3 decided to decorate it with a replica of Picasso’s famous Guernica. There remains some debate whether this is to symbolise the atrocities of Guernica, or if it pays homage to the bull itself which suffers from a different sort of repression depending on your point of view when it comes to bull fighting.
The Osborne Bull has had an interesting 60 year history at the hands of lawmakers both national and international. At first the bulls featured the name of their owner. EU regulations on alcohol advertising meant that the practice had to be stopped in 1988. The bulls were taken down but a public outcry saw them reinstalled but painted in plain black. Prior to that the Spanish government had required the removal of the bulls from within 125 metres of the roadside. Osborne’s answer was to move them but increase their size to a massive 14 metres and place them in very prominent positions! In 1997 the bull was awarded the title of a “national symbol”, something which few people can deny it truly is.