The Two Marias
The small local park in Santiago de Compostela is called Alameda Park just past the old town. Upon entering you are greeted by a statue of two ladies. The statues are replicas of the Spanish sisters Maruxa and Coralia Fanino Ricart. Both ladies are brightly dressed and offer an open hand in a warm gesture. However, their faces have a solemn undertone representing their troubling story and how they became the Two Marias of Alameda Park.
The sisters were raised in a family of 13 siblings. During the regime of Franco, three of the brothers had an active role in the Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo. This was an organisation fighting against the sovereignty of the Spanish general. The story goes, the brothers were arrested and detained in the early 1950s. They experienced consistent emotional abuse, torture and excessive physical brutality. Upon release, a brother passed due to injury whilst the other two went into hiding. The family was consistently interrogated as to their whereabouts as well as persecuted for harbouring fugitives. The impact of this led to the death of the women’s parents and many of the siblings.
The sisters, who later became the Two Marias, were both trained as seamstresses. However, because of the pressures and attention on the family, they were often unable to find work. Many of the locals were known to donate food and other items to the women. In the early 1960s, it was reported that a storm tore down the roof of their home. To help the family, the town collected 250,00 pesetas in donations. At that time, it was enough money for the ladies to purchase a new flat.
Along with another sister who later died, the ladies would habitually enter Alameda Park in Santiago de Compostela at 2 PM. They would be dressed in bright clothing, high heels and even brighter make-up. The ladies would gallivant around and flirt with the much younger university students. Many locals suggest the women experienced poor mental health due to the trauma which led to this exuberant behaviour. Whilst others thought the women were simply trying to find some enjoyment in their troublesome life. The women were regularly seen until the 1980s when Maruxa passed. Coralia left the town of Santiago de Compostela and died three years later.
The statues were laid in the local park in Santiago de Compostela by sculptor Cesar Lambera in 1994 in memory of the two women. Throughout the years a coat of fresh paint has given the ladies new and brighter clothing, truly representing the legend of the Two Marias.
Whilst many locals depict the Two Marias as unwell and flirtatious; others view their lives and statues as a symbol of the fight against oppression and inequality. Following your Camino de Santiago, if you have any steps left in you, go and visit the Two Marias and decide for yourself. Whether you see the ladies as freedom fighters or tarty older women; the ladies definitely continue to impact the modern day town of Santiago de Compostela!
The Two Marias of Santiago de Compostela. (2016). Retrieved May 13, 2016, from https://www.glamourgrannytravels.com/2016/03/03/the-two-marias-of-santiago-de-compostela/
Two O’clock with The Two Marys in Santiago De Compostella. (2013). Retrieved May 13, 2016, from https://myboltdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/two-oclock-with-the-two-marys-in-santiago-de-compostella/