Santiago’s Two Marias: A Glimpse into the Past

Santiago de Compostela is adorned with a myriad of sculptures, but there’s one that tells a story of resilience and defiance like no other – Las Dos Marías, the representation of two sisters that walk forever in La Alameda, the most iconic park in the city. As a visitor, it’s almost unavoidable to feel curiosity when one encounters them, so we felt the need to tell their story, which is one known by all locals.

Las dos Marías were the two sisters who lived in Santiago and came to be a loved episode of the city’s history. Over time, they became a symbol of resilience during the challenging times of dictatorship. Many saw in them a silent rebellion against the oppressive regime, offering a whisper of freedom to those who felt stifled.

Born in 1898 and 1914, Maruxa and Coralia Fandiño, despite their significant age difference, shared an unbreakable bond within a family of over ten siblings. Several of their brothers were prominent members of the CNT, a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions, which was long affiliated with the International Workers’ Association (AIT), and for that, they were prosecuted during the Spanish Civil War.

For years and years, the sisters endured harassment, constant raiding of their house, and physical and mental torment in their quest to protect their fugitive brothers. But they never betrayed them, and they never disclosed their location.

The torment persisted until their brothers’ tragic demise, leaving the sisters in a state of precarity. Fearful of associating with an anarchist family, neighbors ceased bringing clothes for the sisters to mend – leaving them without the last economic sustain they had. They nevertheless extended various forms of assistance.

In the face of adversity, Maruxa and Coralia refused to hide and live a life filled with pity, and they instead continued their eccentric existence, embodying rebellion as a form of defense.

Instead, they became known as “as dúas en punto” for their daily 2 PM walks through the city center, which became a symbol of defiance. They walked arm in arm, each day sporting a different, eccentric look from the day before. They smoked and flirted with the students they encountered, completely ignoring societal expectations of what a exemplary woman should be at that time. Locals love to share stories about them!

Maruxa, the elder sister, passed away in 1980. Coralia then moved to A Coruña, but the distance did little to ease her grief. Three years later, she joined her sister in eternity. Since 1994, their legacy lives on through a statue by César Lombera in Alameda Park, capturing them in their daily eccentric walk, a poignant reminder of their unyielding spirit.

Make sure you visit them when you arrive to Santiago. They will welcome you to the city like no one else, and you

Would you like to learn more?

The narrative of “Las dos Marías” gained widespread recognition through the documentary “Coralia e Maruxa, as irmás Fandiño,” by Galician filmmaker Xosé Rivadulla Corcón.

Walk the Camino to discover these stories by yourself!

2024 will be a great year to visit Santiago de Compostela and walk the Camino. Santiago Turismo, the official tourism agency in Santiago is working non-stop to satisfy the high expectations locals and visitors have for the city.

If you don’t want to miss out, now is the time to start planning your Camino. Ask for a free quote and begin your journey today!

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