A Little Bit of Romania in the Heart of Spain

The Romanian community in Madrid, illustrates how the two cultures have a lot of common ground

July 01st, 2016
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Around 200.000 Romanians currently live in the Madrid area. Most of them arrived in the years of the economic boom, bringing with them a small piece of Romania in their luggage. The demand for labor in construction and domestic service gave them the opportunity to start a new life and even grow roots, becoming one of the most important foreign communities in the capital of Spain. We interview one of their members to find out more about them.

If you walk through any of the cities that form what is known as the “Henares Corridor”, in the east side of Madrid, you are as likely to overhear a conversation in Spanish as in Romanian. In Alcala de Henares, Coslada or Torrejón de Ardoz, there are 55.000 Romanians. Travelling through the area you can spot their presence in the multiple red, yellow and blue themed panels announcing restaurants or grocery stores. Here you can buy typical Romanian products, such as spiced sausages or the ingredients for making ciorbă.

But why here? Mirella is 45 years old and has been living in Spain since 2000, working mainly in domestic service. She didn’t come to Spain for economic reasons, rather on account of her new-born child. Her child needed medical attention that was unavailable in Romania. She highlights the solidarity of both the Romanian and Spanish communities when she initially moved Madrid, although sometimes she did encounter some problems.

“Romanians and Spaniards have a lot in common: our languages have the same Latin roots, we have more or less the same food (although cooked differently) and, principally, we think the same way: we are open to others and love to exaggerate”, she answers when asked about the coexistence of both communities. “All in all, I can say we are integrated. My children grew up here, they think and communicate in Spanish.”

As the Romanian community grew larger, the institutions to support them likewise grew in size. In Coslada or Alcala, you can find cultural centres, specialised offices in city halls, information and judicial help centres and churches. This helps the Romanian community to keep their own traditions while simultaneously normalising them in the eyes of the local population. 

“It’s true, everything has changed a little bit for the worse since the beginning of the crisis, lot of people are going back to Romania, where they have a payed house, but I’m optimistic for the future” concludes Mirela, acknowledging the current situation. However the Romanian community in Madrid is a strong and integrated one. We would do well to take inspiration from Mirela and hope for a positive future, where mutual cultural acknowledgement leads to a better coexistence.

Cultural Diplomacy News
Nicolás Pan-Montojo Sisniega, CD News