What's the most absurd law in good old Spain?, Source: Depositphotos

10 Weird Laws: This Time from Spanish Cities

10 Weird Laws: This Time from Spanish Cities

Surprisingly, none of them has anything to do with bulls or gazpacho

Weird laws are an interesting reflection of local culture. And since summer is one of those times when virtually everyone rushes to explore other cultures, we decided to pull the curtain on some of the quirkiest local and regional legislation that you may encounter on your vacation.

This time around, it’s the turn of sunny and joyous Spain. Let’s not forget that this is where the Spanish Inquisition was created so hammering out laws and taking them seriously is an ancient tradition there. It wasn’t always playas, flamenco and siesta.

But what about our times, can we still get in trouble with a lighter version of the Inquisition? It seems so - we managed to unearth ten weird local laws. Breaking them will not result in your burning at the stake or having your nails pulled out (Glad that’s over!) but could still land you in hot water – metaphorically speaking.

Dress code on the street

shirtless muscley man

Flex somewhere else, bro! Source: Depositphotos

This one is actually slowly and gradually becoming the norm in many Mediterranean countries, seeking to preserve a modicum of normality and civility in daily urban lives. Coastal cities, such as Barcelona and Malaga, have outlawed the frivolity of walking around in your trunks or bikini under the threat of a fine.

The urban areas aren’t just an extension and attachment to the beach, if anything it’s the other way round, or think of them as separate areas with their own rules. In Palma de Mallorca, you can’t be shirtless either, even if wearing a nice set of dress trousers.

Careful with the laundry in Seville

undies drying

Isn't it the best to air out laundry though? Source: Depositphotos

Sevillians, or sevillanos, take skimpy outfit policing even further. Never mind going out dressed in your undies on the streets, you are not even allowed to hang them out to dry after you’ve washed them.

That kind of thing is seen as offensive and an affront to the morality of the fairly conservative southern city. We’re not sure what the fine for that would be.

No dominoes in Seville, either

dominos game

It's the clacking noise that bothers the authorities. Source: Depositphotos

What’s up with those Sevillanos being such party poopers, but yea, it seems that the law prohibits people to play dominoes, but only on the tables of outdoor bars and cafes (or as they are locally known – terrazas).

This one dates back to 2013 when the city council passed an Ordinance Against Acoustic, Noise and Vibration Pollution. What makes this even weirder is that playing card games doesn’t fall under this legislation. The reasoning, therefore, goes that the noise is generated by the actual clacking of domino tiles on the table. For the same reason, you can’t roll beer barrels on the street or have a TV set on your balcony. According to Voz Populi, even most Sevillians aren’t aware of these rules.

Mind where you dry your mop

girl with mop

What's the deal with mops anyway? Source: Depositphotos

Did you know that cleaning mops were invented in Spain? Yes, and so were the lollipops. Apparently, Spaniards are experts at attaching things to one end of sticks and converting them into new things.

However, residents in the town of Villanueva de la Torre (central Spain) are not allowed to dry their mops on their balconies or visible places. It’s the mention of mops in the ordinance that’s gotten the most attention, but in reality, the ban also refers to any items of laundry hanging out to air in the sun.

Apparently, this has to do with civil cohabitation between neighbours, though we’re unsure how this will lessen quarrels between next-door residents. We guess every bit counts. In that vein, dogs aren’t allowed to bark at night there either. Since 2012.

Don’t sing on the street

man with microphone

Not the right spot to try out your musical talent. Source: Depositphotos

Imagine that you’ve had a glass or two of nice Spanish sherry, a slice of tortilla de patatas, and you find yourself walking in the balmy night on a street in the city of Zamora. It all feels so glorious and wonderful that you want to air it all out in the form of a praising song. Well, you better not. It would be counted as vandalism there.

The ordinance regulating coexistence in this Castillian municipality states in Article 41 the following: “It is prohibited to disturb the rest and tranquillity of the neighbours through: songs or the practice of acrobatics and skill games with skates, skateboards or bicycles outside the areas designated for that purpose". So, we guess that means that no one will applaud your somersault skills either.

In Cadiz, rice is more precious than vows

rice thrown at newlyweds

And now, let the birds arrive! Source: Depositphotos

Nothing says wedding traditions like dressing in white for the bride, exchanging rings, and throwing rice over the newlyweds – the latter is meant to symbolize prosperity and fertility. In the Andalusian city of Cadiz, however, the local government thinks rice mostly contributes to the fertility of pigeons, given that they are the ones left to clean up after the blessed ritual.

Since 2007, the municipality has banned that wedding custom on account that it’s actually trying to limit the bird population and thus maintain cleaner public areas. Likewise, throwing flower petals was also banned, making the city cleaner but somewhat less appealing as a tie-the-knot destination.

Don’t beg together with a dog

dog and beggar

Dogs are mates and not props. Source: Depositphotos

In Spain, animal rights are constantly evolving. So much so, that occasionally there are some rules that may baffle you at first glance. For example, the one where beggars are not allowed to be accompanied by dogs.

The reasoning goes that such animals are used as props and often mistreated, for instance, drugged, in order to garner more pity for the begging person. And this goes right into animal abuse territory. In this case, offenders can be subject to fines of up to 3,000 euros.

However, the authorities assure that it doesn’t mean that homeless people can’t own dogs or other pets.

Do dogs have the right to enjoy the beach?

dogs on beach

If anything, the beach can be too much fun for dogs. Source: Depositphotos

Spain’s Ley de Costas (Beach Law) demands that the country’s beaches be kept clean and safe. Many municipalities have taken it up to themselves to interpret this as no pets on the sand strip. As such, you’ll find that in general your best four-legged friend isn’t allowed to catch some summer vibes on the waves. And the fines can reach up to 3,000 euros.

Luckily, that’s not the case everywhere. Other municipalities have seen a market opportunity in this and have jumped to create dog-friendly beaches as a way to attract pet-loving tourists.

Catalonia puts road safety for sex workers at the top

yellow vest and car

Yes, yellow traffic vests can save lives. Source: Depositphotos

Back in 2010, the small town of Els Alamús, in Catalonia, made headlines with the news that the authorities have forced the paid sex workers operating at a local roundabout to wear yellow reflective vests. Failing to do so could mean a 40-euro fine for the women or men practising that profession.

The police have found it hard to eradicate prostitution in that spot, so instead they tried to resort to the traffic law as a way of imposing some order. And even if the vests clashed with the provocative outfits worn by the girls, at least it reduced the risk of them being run over by a car.

Seville frowns on dumpster diving

raccoon and trash bins

This fella would get into trouble were he in Seville. Source: Depositphotos

This one is quite controversial. And has been in place since 2003. In essence, searching for food or valuables in the trash bins is strictly forbidden and carries a fine of 750 euros, with serious and repeat offenders facing possible punishments of up to 3,000 euros.

Given that the number of people who rummage through the trash is a clear sign of a deteriorating economic situation, it only seems absurd to impose heavy fines on those who don’t have the money to afford basic food anyway. The local government has defended the ordinance with the argument that this protects the health of those who consume food from the trash, plus it helps keep the streets cleaner.

An interesting way of trying to eradicate poverty - sanctioning it.

One Spanish person, however, is allowed to break all these laws

Felipe VI

This man is above any weird laws. Source: Depositphotos

Speaking of privilege, and some may feel indignant with this, but there’s one person to whom all the silly and absurd laws don’t apply and that’s the King. That’s right – His Majesty Felipe VI has the right to walk bare-chested in Palma de Mallorca if he ever felt inclined to do so. We doubt he will, though. Someone must set a good tone.

Curious about other strange laws that you may encounter in European cities? Check out our guides to Italy and France.



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