Upon entering the small Alameda Park, just past the old town of Santiago de Compostela, you will be greeted by a statue of two ladies. The statues are replicas of the Spanish sisters Maruxa and Coralia Fanino Ricart. Although brightly dressed and offering an open hand in a warm gesture, the 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, an organisation fighting against the sovereignty of the Spanish general. The story goes, the brothers were arrested and detained in the early 1950s and 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 interogated as to their where abouts 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.
Both ladies were trained as a seastress; 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 and the town collected 250,00 pesetas in donations which at the time 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 at 2 PM dressed in bright clothing, high heels and even brighter make-up. They would gallivant around and flirt with the local 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 and died three years later.
The statues were laid by sculptor Cesar Lambera in 1994 in memory of the two women. Many locals depict the Two Marias as unwell and flirtatious; whilst 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 http://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/