The nine weirdest (and wonderful) museums in Spain

Spain is home to some of the finest museums in the world, but it also boasts some of the most bizarre. From the museum dedicated entirely to melons to the museum of urinals, The Local counts down Spain’s weirdest.

The nine weirdest (and wonderful) museums in Spain
The 'buttocks wall' at Can Ginebreda forest (sculpture park) in Girona, Catalonia. Photo: Josep Bracons/Flickr

Spain is an ideal destination for culture vultures. Madrid’s ‘golden triangle’ of the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen, Barcelona’s Picasso Museum and Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim are some of the places that many national and foreign tourists add to their itinerary.

But when you get sick of gazing at Goya, marvelling at Miró and peering at Picasso, why not visit some of Spain’s more, how shall we put it, ‘specialised’ museums.

From a warehouse dedicated to funeral carriages to a garden full of explicit stone sculptures, The Local walks you through Spain’s nine weirdest museums. 

The Urinal Museum, Ciudad Rodrigo

A trip to this pretty, walled city in Salamanca province is worth it just to visit this very special museum dedicated to urinals.

Nowhere in the known world will one come across such a vast collection of chamber pots, the result of an obsessional local landlord who gifted his bizarre collection to the town in 2006. Visitors are not required to spend a penny while there.

Photo: Luis Rogelio HM/Wikipedia

Museum of Funeral Carriages, Barcelona

If you tire of the traditional touristy sites of the Catalan capital and feel you’ve had enough of Gaudí architecture, modern art, and even shopping then why not take a break from culture and pop into this dusty old warehouse full of funeral paraphernalia.

Photo: Cementiris de Barcelona/Wikipedia

Forest of Naughty Sculptures (not official name), Girona

The “erotic forest” of Can Ginebreda features the work of sculptor Xicu Cabanyes, whose work leaves little to the imagination. Maybe not the best place to take the kids on a day out in Catalonia, but a good chance to shake off your inhibitions and marvel at everything from giant phalluses to naked women carved from stone. 

Photo: Lara B. Gómez/Flickr

The Witch Museum, Zugarramurdi

The little town of Zugarramurdi in Navarre (northern Spain) has the dubious honour of being the epicentre of the occult activity that led to the infamous Basque Witch Trials during the Spanish Inquisition. The museum recounts how dozens of women were ripped from their homes and put on trial, so if you’re looking for a Halloween day out, look no further. 

Photo: Carla Vidal/Flickr

Torture Museum, Santillana del Mar

This museum might even make some Fifty Shades of Grey fans blush. From guillotines, to clubs, to chastity belts, the torture museum explores all the sickening ways people were tortured and publicly humiliated in the Middle Ages and beyond.

Photo: MiguelAlanCS/Wikipedia

Melon Museum, Villaconejos

Spring is well on its way here in Spain and there’s nothing nicer than biting into a slice of juicy melon…or is there? What about a visit to the only museum in the world dedicated to the fruit and its farmers? The town of Villaconejos near Madrid is home to generations of melon farmers and every autumn celebrates its very own melon festival.

Photo: Malopez 21/Wikipedia

Tooth Mouse Museum, Madrid

While Spaniards may not have the tooth fairy, they do have a little mouse who does more or less the same job. Ratoncito Pérez, the creature beloved by all Spanish children, first appeared in a story by Spanish author Luis Coloma in 1902. Now the mouse has his very own museum in Madrid, where you can find out all about him and his family (he has a wife and three children of course). 

Photo: Jlordovas/Flickr

Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers, Guadalest

Kitschy salt and pepper shakers are a staple of mom-and-pop shops and the kitchen decor of your great aunt Sue, but who would think that such innocuous seasoning-containers deserved their own museum? Spaniards do, or at least those in the Valencian town of Guadalest. Marvel at all the strange ways that one can add flavour to their dinner. 

Microminiature Museum, Guadalest

Ever wanted to see a flea dressed as a bullfighter? Well now you can! The Microminiature Museum in Guadalest (clearly a global leader when it comes to unusual museums) showcases some of the finest works of Manuel Ussá, one of the world’s best ‘microminiaturists’. Marvel at the Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle and Goya’s famous painting The Shootings of the 2nd of May painted onto a grain of rice. If you like your culture in small doses, this is the museum for you. Unbelievably, it’s not the only microminiature museum in the Iberian peninsula, with a competitor in the town of Ordino in the microstate of Andorra.

Photo: Nicolaï Syadristy/Wikipedia

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Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Many foreigners in Spain complain that the streets are full of dog faeces, but is that actually true and what, if anything, is being done to address it?

Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Spain is a nation of dog lovers.

According to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), 40 percent of Spanish households have a dog.

In fact, believe it or not, the Spanish have more dogs than they do children.

While there are a little over 6 million children under the age of 14 in Spain, there are over 7 million registered dogs in the country. 

But one bugbear of many foreigners in Spain is that there’s often a lot of dog mess in the streets, squares and parks.

The latest estimates suggest it’s as much as 675,000 tonnes of doodoo that has to be cleaned up every year in Spain.

Many dog owners in Spain carry around a bottle of water mixed with detergent or vinegar to clean up their dog’s urine and small plastic bags to pick up number twos.

And yet, many owners seem to either turn a blind eye to their pooches’ poo or somehow miss that their pets have just pooed, judging by the frequency with which dog sh*t smears Spanish pavements. 

So how true is it that Spain has a dog poo problem? Is there actually more dog mess in Spain than in other countries, and if not, why does it seem that way?

One contextual factor worth considering when understanding the quantity of caca in Spain’s calles is how Spaniards themselves actually live.

When one remembers that Spaniards mostly live in apartments without their own gardens, it becomes less surprising that it feels as though there’s a lot of dog mess in the streets. Whereas around 87 percent of households in Britain have a garden, the number in Spain is below 30 percent.

Simply put, a nation of dog lovers without gardens could mean more mess in the streets. 

Whereas Britons often just let their dogs out into their garden to do their business, or when they can’t be bothered to take them for a walk even, Spaniards have to take them out into the street, unless they’re okay with their pooches soiling their homes. 

There aren’t many dog-friendly beaches in Spain, and the fact that on those that do exist, some owners don’t clean up their dogs’ mess, doesn’t strengthen the case for more ‘playas para perros‘ to be added. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / STR / AFP)

Doggy dirt left in the streets is most certainly not a Spain-specific problem either, but rather an urban one found around the world.

In recent years, there have been complaints about the sheer abundance of canine faecal matter left in public spaces in Paris, Naples, Rome, Jerusalem, Glasgow, Toronto, London, San Francisco and so on.

READ ALSO: Why do some Spanish homes have bottles of water outside their door?

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a worldwide study to shed light on which cities and countries have the biggest ‘poo-blem’, with the available investigations mainly centred on individual nations, such as this one by Protect my Paws in the US and UK

And while it may be more noticeable in Spain than in some countries, it doesn’t mean the Spanish are doing nothing about it.

In fact, Barcelona has been named the third best city in Europe for dealing with the problem, according to a study by pet brand

Although Barcelona’s score of 53/80 was significantly lower than many British cities (Newcastle scored 68/80 and Manchester 66/80, for example) its hefty fines of 1,500 for dog owners caught not cleaning up after their canine friends might be a reason. 

And some parts of Spain take it even more seriously than that.

In many Spanish regions doggy databases have been created to catch the culprits. Over 35 Spanish municipalities require dog owners to register their pets’ saliva or blood sample on a genetic database so they can be traced and fined, if necessary. 

In Madrid, you are twice as likely to come across someone walking a dog than with a baby’s stroller. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

This DNA trick started earlier in Spain than in many other countries; the town of Brunete outside of Madrid kicked off the trend in 2013 by mailing the ‘forgotten’ poo to neglectful owners’ addresses. Some municipalities have also hired detectives to catch wrongdoers.

So it’s not as if dog poo doesn’t bother Spaniards, with a 2021 survey by consumer watchdog OCU finding that it’s the type of dirt or litter found in the streets than bothers most people.

READ ALSO: Clean or dirty? How does your city rank on Spain’s cleanliness scale? 

It’s therefore not a part of Spanish culture not to clean up after dogs, but rather a combination of Spain’s propensity for outdoor and urban living, the sheer number of dogs, and of course the lack of civic duty on the part of a select few. Every country has them. 

On a final note, not all dog owners in Spain who don’t clean up after their pooches can be blamed for doing it deliberately, but it’s certainly true that looking at one’s phone rather than interacting with your dog, or walking with your dog off the leash (also illegal except for in designated areas) isn’t going to help you spot when your pooch has done its business.

Article by Conor Faulkner and Alex Dunham