Discover Spanish history in London

23 August, 2017 History Erin O'Neill

Spanish history in London

In a place like London, a stroll through the city can take you past Parisian-style cafés, Italian churches, and Grecian architecture. You can explore many different cultures, cuisines, and types of entertainment with ease; and if you’re interested, you can even learn more about their histories and cultures, provided you are equipped with THE NECESSARY LANGUAGE SKILLS to read the information around you.

Spain and England have a tumultuous and interesting history – much of which has helped to name various areas around the capital. Read on to find out the Spanish history behind the names of a few places in London.



Named for the infamous Spanish Armada of 1588. When the Catholic King Phillip II of Spain grew tired of the Protestant rule of Queen Elizabeth I in England, he sent a fleet (or armada) of 130 ships to overthrow her. The armada was defeated, further cementing the strength of Queen Elizabeth I as a formidable world leader.


Gibraltar Way in Hackney takes its name from the island of Gibraltar off the southern coast of Spain.

In 1700, after the death of the childless and heirless King Charles II of Spain, European leaders saw an opportunity to claim Gibraltar for themselves. This began the War of the Spanish Succession. An Anglo-Dutch force fought against the French and Spanish army to determine who would succeed King Charles II, and in 1704 the Anglo-Dutch forces prevailed. Since then, Gibraltar has been under British rule, with Spain’s attempts to win it back proving unsuccessful.


The name Portobello commemorates a 1739 British naval victory over Spain. Britain and Spain were often at war during this period, and the settlement of Portobello in Panama was an important port for the Spanish. Admiral Edward Vernon seized the town with only six ships, and the capture of Portobello became an exceptionally popular triumph throughout Britain and America.


The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was a major victory for the British navy, in which they defeated Napoleon’s combined French and Spanish fleets. Admiral Lord Nelson, Britain’s most impressive commander, was killed during the battle – but Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain were destroyed.  The cape of Trafalgar lies in Southern Spain, and is where the battle took place. In 1843 Nelson’s Column, overlooking the square, was built to commemorate the Admiral.


If these names don’t ring any bells or you’re wondering how they should sound, A SPANISH COURSE at The Language Gallery can give you some great insights on how to explore the culture and history behind the Spanish language.

All our classes are now available online, click here to learn more.
Also try our One-to-One online classes, click here to learn more.
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