Most Influential Spaniards In History – By Province

The Spanish daily newspaper La Razon has published  the “most influential Spaniards of all time” – listed by each of Spain´s 49 provinces that corresponds to where they were born.

The list travels through Spanish history and stretches back to the Roman Empire and takes us through to the Golden Age of the 15th and 16th centuries and through to the tumultuous 19th and 20th centuries through to today.

Some figures are well known internationally, others less so as their fame didnt travel outside the country – others still less known even by Spaniards.

There are emperors, poets, artists, warriors and explorers of centuries gone by joining the sports legends of today.

Given the many geopolitical changes that Spain has seen over the centuries these are Visigoths and Romans, Catalans and Castilians as well as modern Spaniards and all of whom can lay claim to have shaped Spanish history.

The curious ommision from the list is a single person from Spain´s Moorish past and whose presence in the Peninsula for nearly a thousand years left an indelible mark in many fields including literature, architecture, medicine and Spanish culture.

Indeed of the few listed during the Moorish period, two including the Castilian king, Alfonso XII and El Cid, both became latter day representatives of the Reconquista.

Catalunia is well represented in the arts with Gaudi, Miro and Dali all leading their provinces, whilst the Extremuduran provinces provide the conquerors of the Inca and Aztec Empires.

Madrid is represented by Miguel de Cervantes whose home in Huertas can still be visited today.

The 21st century is well represented with sports personalities including Rafael Nada ( Balearics) and Real Madrid football coach, Vicente del Bosque.

The list by province is:

  • Álava: Manuel Iradier (1854-1911). African explorer & linguist.
  • Albacete: José Luis Cuerda (1947-2020). Film Director and Producer
  • Alicante: Miguel Hernández (1910-1942).  Poet and dramatist of of the “generation of 27.”
  • Almeria:  Nicolás Salmerón (1838-1908). Politician and first president of the 1st Republic.
  • Asturias:  Severo Ochoa (1905-1993). Biochemist and Nobel Prize Winner ( Medicine) as co-discover of DNA.
  • Ávila: Queen Isabella (1451-1504). Through her marriage to Ferdinand became queen of Spain after the fallof Granada in 1492.
  • Badajoz: Hernán Cortés (1485-1547). Conquistador and conqueror of the Aztec Empire.
  • Balearic Islands:  Rafael Nadal (1985). One of the most successful tennis players in the world and winner of over 20 grand slams.
  • Barcelona: Joan Miró (1893-1983). Painter and pioneer of the surrearilist movement
  • Burgos: Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, ‘El Cid’ (1048-1099). Warrior and mercenary.
  • Cáceres: Francisco Pizarro (1478-1541). Conquistador and who defeated the Inca Empire in modern day Peru.
  • Cádiz: Rafael Alberti (1902-1999). Poet of the Generation of 27 and author of the poem “Sobre los ángeles.”
  • Cantabria / Severiano Ballesteros (1957-2011). Golfer and winner of countless international competitions including three British Opens.
  • Castellón / Cardenal Tarancón (1907-1994). Archbishop of Toledo and who played a leading role in the transition period after the death of Franco.
  • Ciudad Real: Pedro Almodóvar (1949). Multi award winning Spanish film producer.
  • Córdoba:  Séneca (4-65 AD). One of the most important figures of the Roman Empire; senator, orator, philosopher and writer.
  • Cuenca: Francisco de Mora (1553-1610). Architect and builder of numerous grand royal projects including the Royal Monastery of El Escorial and Convento de San José. 
  • Girona: Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). Artist and Surrealist as well as one of the most venerated of all modern painters.
  • Granada: Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). Poet and dramatist whose work La casa de Bernarda Alba has been translated into 40 languages.
  • Guadalajara:  Antonio Buero Vallejo (1916-2000). Considered one of the country´s leading 20th writers of the 20th century.
  • Guipuzcoa:  Juan Sebastián Elcano (1476-1526). Navigator and explorer who was the first person to circumnavigate the world.
  • Huelva: Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958). Poet of the generation of 27 and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956.
  • Huesca:  Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852 -1934). Co-winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1906 and considered father of neuroscience.
  • Jaén: Francisco de los Cobos (1477-1547).  Chief Council and Secretary of State during the reign of King Charles I of Spain and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • La Coruña:  Camilo José Cela (1916-2002). Writer and author of La Colmena, and winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for literature.
  • La Rioja:  Gonzalo de Berceo (1198-1264).  Writer and considered the first poet of the Castilian language.
  • Las Palmas:  Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920). Writer and author of Fortunata y Jacinta
  • León: Urraca I (1033-1101). Queen of Leon and the first woman to reign a kingdom in early medieval Europe, following the death of her brother fighting the Moors.
  • Lleida:  Enrique Granados (1867-1918). Pianist and composer. Winner of the French Legion of Honour.
  • Lugo:  Álvaro Cunqueiro (1911-1981). Galician author and journalist.
  • Madrid:  Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). Considered the greatest of all Spanish writers and author of El Quijote.
  • Málaga:  Pablo Picasso (1881-1971). Considered one of the greatest painters of the modern era and creator of cubism whose masterpieces include Guernica and Mujer que llora.
  • Murcia:  Juan de la Cierva (1895-1936). Engineer and inventor of the helicopter.
  • Navarra:  Miguel Induráin (1964). Legendary cyclist and five times winner of the Tour de France.
  • Orense/ Adolfo Domínguez (1950). Stylist, designer and businessman and founder the the clothing brand.
  • Palencia:  Jorge Manrique (1440-1479). Poet and author of Coplas a la muerte de su padre.
  • Pontevedra: Ramón María del Valle Inclán (1869-1935). Dramatist and leading writer of the Generation of 98. Author of Luces de bohemia and Divinas Palabras.
  • Salamanca: Vicente del Bosque (1950). Former Real Madrid manager and who guided Spain to World Cup victory in 2010.
  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Agustín de Betancourt (1758-1824). Scientist and first person in Spain to take a manned balloon to the skies.
  • Segovia: Teodosio el grande (347-394). Roman Emperor and the last before it split into the western and eastern empires. Made Christianity the official religion of the empire.
  • Sevilla / Hadrian (53-117). Roman Emperor and who took the empire to the height of its territorial limit which he made famous by building a wall in his name.
  • Soria: Alfonso VIII (1155-1214). King of Castille and Toledo who defeated the Moors at the Battle of Navas de Tolosa.
  • Tarragona:  Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). Considered one of the most influential architects of the modern era and whose works include the Sagrada Familia, and Park Güell 
  • Teruel:  Luis Buñuel (1900-1983). Considered one of Spain´s greatest film directors and producers.
  • Toledo: Garcilaso de la Vega (1503-1536). Soldier and renaissance poet of the Golden Age.
  • Valencia: Luis Berlanga (1921-2010). Film Director and producer of the iconic “Bienvenido, Mister Marshall!” (1953).
  • Valladolid:  Miguel Delibes (1920-2010). Journalist and acclaimed writer.
  • Vizcaya: Miguel Unamuno (1864-1936). Writer, philosopher and leading exponent of the Generation of 98.
  • Zamora: Ángel Nieto (1947-2017). 13 times world motorbike champion.
  • Zaragoza:  Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). Considered one the greatest painters of the 18th and 19th centuries whose seminal works hang in the Prado Museum.
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