The Osborne Bull, a Spanish icon

The Osborne Bull -fifty-four years old (2011)

Once upon a time, the Osborne bulls were a commonplace feature of hills and rises all over Spain. They advertised Veterano Brandy made by the Osborne Company, founded in 1772 by an Englishman, Thomas Osborne Mann. Each bull weighs over 4,00 kilos, is nearly 14 metres tall (the equivalent of a four storey building) and is covered in 50 kilos of black paint.

Highway regulations banning roadside advertising almost led to their removal but public outcry culminated in a 1997 decision by the Spanish Courts that the silhouette of the bull was no longer a commercial logo but an integral part of the local landscape. It is so popular as a national icon that it regularly appears imprinted on the Spanish national flag at sporting events.

There are 90 bulls still to be seen. Cadiz and Alicante have the most; Catalunia re-erected their bull after it was toppled by vandals, and Andalucia has officially catalogued its 21 bulls as historical monuments.

One bull alone remains in Mallorca. It can be seen above, cleaned of its graffiti, or on the stretch of Highway Ma-15 approaching Montuiri from Palma, complete with graffiti.

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