IT’S no surprise the rule-loving Brits were the first to invent the roundabout but Spain’s has transformed them into some examples of the truly bizarre.
Londoners built the first one in 1925, but they didn’t get their priorities right.
It wasn’t until 1966 that Frank Blackmore realised priority for cars already circulating a roundabout was the solution to continuous traffic flow problems.
It was a solution that didn’t catch on in Spain until 1990, however, giving rise to endless complaints about Spanish roundabout rules.
Some criminals have even made a business of it.
For example, the 10 family members investigated in northwestern Vigo for making a cool €90,000 from insurance companies.
The ’roundabout scam’ worked by circulating on the outer lane of a roundabout and ramming a car on the inner lane – as exiting priority is always given to cars on the outer lane, the scammer then played the victim to get an insurance payout.
But despite its problems, Spain has also made one of its most stunning roundabouts famous across the whole Spanish-speaking world.
The Puerta de Alcala is a neo-classical gate in Madrid dating back to 1778, and made famous as the title of a smash hit in 1985 by Ana Belen and Victor Manuel.
The song pays emotional tribute to the gate – older than the Arc de Triomphe and the Brandenburg gate – as it watches the ages go by.
Nevertheless, we hope that not all roundabouts in Spain will remain in their current state forever.
Here’s our list of some of the weirdest roundabouts in Spain.
1. Cemetery in a roundabout, Madrid
The Cementerio del Cristo got stuck in a roundabout at the entrance of Villanueva de la Cañada, outside Madrid, back in 2008.
The town hall said they had built a new cemetery in 2002 and pledged to support any family wishing to move their loved ones.
Though the future plan is to dismantle the cemetery, there still remain a large proportion of the 119 graves and 14 cemetery niches around which traffic still circulates.
2. Swimming pool in a roundabout, Leon
In the town of Villar de Omaña, in Leon, there’s a swimming pool inside a roundabout.
You could imagine a happenchance like this occurring in sunny Spain.
Yet an accident it was not.
Town mayor Manuel Rodriguez said the pool was built in 2015 as a ‘pond in the middle of the town’.
“It’s a typical water butt, just made a little bigger and rounder so the children can use it like we used to bathe in the rivers,” he added.
By looks of the green water, we’re not sure how the townspeople took to it (all 30 of them).
(Also – is that an electricity pylon?)
3. Split car roundabout, Murcia
For a piece of infrastructure that’s supposed to reduce accidents, it seems odd to place a car wreck in the middle of a roundabout.
Then again, perhaps it serves as a warning.
This roundabout in Murcia uses a 1980s Volkswagen Passat and is a work of art dubbed ‘symbiosis’.
It won an environment award from the University of Murcia in 2009 for turning a used car into a sculpture.
4. Recycled turkeys, Jaen
While a turkey might seem out of place in the middle of a roundabout, these two turkeys in Jaen are made from recycled road signs.
The giant turkeys made by local artist Jose Fernandez Rios are indeed eye-catching.
However, giving the turkey a tail made of stop, one-way and priority signs might not be the best match for the busy Avenida Antonio Pacual Acosta.
5. Roundabout of 100 ‘hellos’, Valladolid
This roundabout in Valladolid says ‘hello’ in 316 languages.
It could potentially be useful if situated near an airport, but it’s not.
We wouldn’t be surprised if some of those 316 signs have said ‘hola’ to a few car bonnets over the years.
6. The giraffe-slide, Lleida
A slide in the shape of a giraffe could be a good idea – if it wasn’t in the middle of a roundabout.
Blunder or breakthrough, we’re not sure what the mayor of Balaguer in Catalunya’s Lleida had in mind.
7. The mirror-roundabout, Cantabria
A mirror should be the last thing any sane person would place on a roundabout.
Except for a wall that obstructs all view of oncoming traffic, maybe.
This roundabout in Torrevelaga ticks both boxes to make one of the most dangerous roundabouts on this list – you can appreciate Google’s own mapping car reflected in the image above.
8. The Torre Miramar, Valencia
The last roundabout on our list is the Torre Miramar (literally the ‘ocean-view tower’) in Valencia.
While maybe not the weirdest, aside from being hideous, the Torre Miramar is famous as Spain’s most expensive roundabout to date.
The project took nine years and a mega €24 million to build a tower from which 160 people could see the Mediterranean sea.
But after a grand opening in 2009 the Torre Miramar closed within three months.
In-fighting over costs and management between local governments has turned the tower into one of the most famous – and most hated – symbols of Valencia.
But the best part of it all?
By climbing up the tower you get a wonderful view of the Tarongers dirt-floored carpark.
Perhaps the sea didn’t want anything to do with Torre Miramar either.