Thursday, September 22, 2011

How addresses work in Spain, very confusing!

So, when I got the email confirming where I would live in Málaga, it was full of signs, letters and number that didn't make much sense to me.

In Norway a typical address of a flat looks like this:

Street number 00, apartment number
0000 City

That's it.

My new address in Spain would be this:

c/ Pedro XXXXX, 5 – esc. 3 – 4º B
29007 Málaga 

Whaaaat? What's the "C/" about? And "5-esc. 3 - 4- dot up there that I don't even know how to write, and B"?

Well, I just gave the paper to the taxi driver at the airport thank God, he understood it and helped me ring the right bell.

So, after some time I finally understood how it works.

  • The C/ is simply short for calle (street). Good. And then the street name clearly. 
  • The 5 is the number of the street. 
  • Esc. is short for escalera (staircase) then number 3 is the number of the staircase, and this is where it gets confusing. One same building can have different sections, meaning you need to choose the right stairs or lift to get to the right flat. So the second day in the bulding when I chose the first and best stairs I found I ended up trying to use my key in the wrong door. Luckily the person living behind the door I was trying to open (...) oould explain me in Spanglish that I needed to go back down to the entrance and try another staircase. Puzzled I went back down and wasn't sure what to do, but after walking a bit back and forth I found a little sign pointing me to escalera 3. See, the day I arrived, Brad came down to pick me up since I didn't have keys yet and I didn't pay much attention to where we were going.
  • 4º with the dot up there means 4th  floor
  • B means door B on 4th floor
Ah, as if this wasn't enough. the C/ can be replaced with other abbreviations.
If it's not a Calle, it can be Avenida, (avenue) which would be abbreviated to Avda.
It can be Plaza, (square) which would be abbreviated to Pl.
And it can be Paseo (boulevard) which would be abbreviated to Pº

Another abbreviation can be s/n which means sin numero ,without number. Typically an official building.

Just to complicate matters a liiiiittle more, they don't do it as easy as putting number 1 on first floor, 2 on second etc. No no.
The ground floor is bajos (abbreviated "bjs") Then comes entresuelo (abbreviated "entlo") for the first floor. Other buildings can use principal (abbreviated "pr" or "pral") for first floor. Then comes the numbers for the following floors, until they again complicate it a little with the last one or two floors, called ático which is the penthouse flat, and some buildings even have a sobreatico, which is on top of the ático and is the top floor.


I haven't showed photos from my building/neighbourhood Here goes:

The entrance to the building, there's a man working at the desk there every day, receiving the mail,
saying hello to people etc, hihi what a job!

Hallway, isn't it beautiful?

Outside the building, with the famous playground

Can't afford a gym? No problem, there's one right here on the street!!

I like my neighbourhood, it has a bakery, a tapas bar, a supermarket and more small shops just outside the building. It's a quiet, peaceful area and people in the building are really nice, every time you meet someone in the hallway of the building they say hello!


  1. Det var da voldsomt så vanskelig de skulle gjøre det ;)
    Elsker utendørs-gymmet!! :D

  2. Ja, jeg har ikke sett et utendørs gratisgym før jeg heller ;)

  3. 'Principal', 'Bajo', 'Entresuelo', 'Atico' are the offspring of Picaresque.

    In Madrid, houses with more than four stages had to reserve a department to house official employees - anything, from soldiers from bureaucrats. Sure, that wasn't liked by the owners of the building, so renaming the first two or three floors as well as the two uppers, your building only had four floors - when actually had seven or eight - and wasn't forced to had unwanted lodgers. After Madrid, the use extended to the rest of Spain.

    1. How interesting!! Is this because it was more status living in "lower" floors?

  4. This is super helpful and interesting!! Thank you! I wish I could've found your blog before I arrived in BCN for holidays, but it will definitely be the number one source to nourish the rest of my holidays.

  5. Thank you Kate, so nice to hear!! I hope you have/had wonderful holidays in Barcelona!