Postcard from... Madrid


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The Independent Online

It’s back! For decades a huge Tio Pepe advertising sign hung over Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol until 2011 when, to the dismay of many Madrileños, it was taken down at the request of the new owners’ of the building it was attached to as part of a renovation effort. They subsequently decided the 78-foot-long illuminated sign did not suit their tastes.

Originally given pride of place in 1936, the Tio Pepe sign was erected to celebrate the centenary of the famous Andalusian sherry maker Gonzalez Byass, which counts the Tio Pepe (or Uncle Pepe - a favourite uncle of the company’s founder) as one of its most popular brands.

Originally fixed to 1 Puerta del Sol, the brightly lit neon sign has moved a few doors down the road to number 11, where the owners seem not to share the atheistic concerns of their neighbours.

For whatever reason, Spanish drinks companies’ emblems enjoy a special significance in the hearts of Spaniards. On all of Spain’s major roads, you’re sure to come across Osborne’s black bulls, which were originally put up in the 1950s to advertise the Osborne sherry company. And as with the Tio Pepe sign when, in 1994, a law prohibiting roadside advertising was passed leading to the bulls’ removal, a nationwide campaign swiftly saw to it that they were reinstated.