Spanish Idioms With Spanish Cities (II)

¡Hola a todos!

Today I’m writing about the second part of Spanish idioms using Spanish locations. You can read the first part here if you didn’t!

  • Estar a la luna de Valencia / Quedarse a la luna de Valencia

Literally, it is “to be under Valencia’s moon”. And you may think: “but the moon is the same everywhere in the world”. Yes, but this idiom’s origin is about Valencia. Long time ago, Valencia was surrounded by a wall whose gates were shut all night long. People who didn’t reach the gates before they were closed, had to stay out of the city during the night, under the moonlight.

About its use, you may guess. Somebody who left behind or, according to our dictionary (RAE), to talk about the failed hopes (like sleeping in your bed instead of the ground out of the walls).




  • Barcelona es buena si la bolsa suena

This is not an idiom itself, but it can work too. If we translate it into English, would be something like “Barcelona is good if your bag sounds”. Sounds like what? Well, we’re talking about money. Currently, it makes reference to the high prices you can find in Barcelona (although we all know there both are expensive and cheap deals everywhere).

It is said that, originally, this expression was about the businesses in Barcelona, where Italian people went trying to make big deals and said that it was a good place if you made it, that is, if you got the money in your bag.


  • De Madrid al cielo

This is also not an idiom, but a very popular expression that describes Madrid: “From Madrid to the sky”. But its origin is very confusing.

Some people say its due to the remodeling plan that Carlos III carried out in the city. Other people say there is a house in Garabitas’ Hill where souls of deceased people born in Madrid gather and ascend to the sky.

But the most reliable is the one related to Luis Quiñones de Benavente, a writer from the Spanish Golden Age. He wrote the following words in one of his dramas:

“Pues el inverno y el verano,

En Madrid solo son buenos,

Desde la cuna a Madrid,

Y desde Madrid al cielo.”




  • Tomar las de Villadiego

Villadiego is a town located in Burgos, west of Spain. We say “to take the Villadiego ones” when running away from something.

Its origin is as follows. When Jewish were persecuted in Spain, Fernando III ordered that no Jewish in Villadiego could be caught. Then, when they felt threatened, they went to Villadiego seeking protection. Once there, they had to wear yellow tights as a sign of the King’s protection.

  • Salir de Málaga y meterse en Malagón

“Leave Málaga and get into Malagón”. Its literally meaning makes sense if you’re going for a trip from the Southern city to the town located in Ciudad Real, middle area of Spain. As an idiom, it has a different meaning: escaping from a bad situation and get into a worse one.

About its origin, I’m afraid to say that there are no kings involved here, it’s just a pun. As you may know, “mala” means “bad” (female form), hence using Málaga. The second part is about the augmentative suffix. We add “-ón” to some words to make them look bigger, for example: cabeza – cabezón (head – big head). So if we put this suffix into Málaga, it turns Malagón (I’m not saying this is the origin of the town’s name!), and we can make reference to the small problem (Málaga) and the bigger one (Malagón).




  • Son como los amantes de Teruel, tonta ella, tonto él

“They are like the Teruel lovers, she’s a fool, he’s a fool”. This is used to people who match really good because… well, they’re just silly. We use it due to the rhyme, but there is a story behind it.

To sum up, it’s a typical tragedy (but you can read the whole story here): a man loves a woman, the woman loves the man, but her dad doesn’t want her to marry him, so he married her to a wealthy man. Once, the man asked her to kiss him, but she didn’t want, as she was married. Suddenly, he died of pity, and so she did. Finally, they were buried together.


  • Poner pies en Polvorosa

“To put the foot in Polvorosa”. It is an expression that we use when somebody runs away (literally or not) from a problem. The popular origin of the idiom is about the dust (“polvo”) that raises when we run on a dirt road.

But there is also a historic theory. When Alfonso III noticed the danger about the Moorish people conquering his Kingdom, he took the troops to Polvorosa (in Palencia) to settle the battle. Once there, they obtained the victory because the Moorish run away completely terrified… due to a moon eclipse that frightened them.



  • Pa’lante como los de Alicante

This is only about the rhyme. Alicante is a Southern city in Spain, a coast one, and the whole sentence means “Forward like those from Alicante”. It is used when you have to go straight or go ahead with a plan.

It is a very colloquial sentence, and we can see that on the contraction. The correct way should be “para adelante”, but we cut it and say “pa’lante”. This is a very common linguistic resource in Southern Spain: shorter words in order to speak faster.


That’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed reading these idioms as much as I enjoyed putting them together on this post. If you liked it, please let me know, and if you want more, I could write about more idioms with cities… from other parts of the world!

If you have any question about this, don’t hesitate to ask me. Remember that you can study Spanish online with me, you can ask for a 30 minutes free trial lesson, where we will get to know each other and start your Spanish adventure!

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Thank you! 😊

Publicado en Spanish idioms.

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