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Aljaraque (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Aljaraque - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 16 August 2016

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Presentation of Aljaraque

The municipality of Aljaraque (19,492 inhabitants in 2013; 3,382 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km west of Huelva.

Aljaraque was already settled in the Neolithic, as evidenced by remains found in Papa Uvas. The Phoenicians established in the 7th century BC a fish salting workshop. The place declined during the Roman period, in spite of ore trade.
Known to the Arabs as Al Xarat (The Hill), the place was fiercely disputed by the taifas (kingdoms) of Niebla and Saltés. After the Christian reconquest, Aljaraque was granted a charter by King Alfonso X the Wise, but population hardly grew until the 15th century. At the time, the shepherds used the three roads that converged to the town near the Juncal Fountain. From the late 15th century to 1835, Aljaraque belonged to the Duchy of Medina Sidonia. At the end of the 17th century, the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages of San Antonio and San Jorge moved to Aljaraque, deemed healthier. They were joined in the 18th century by emigrants coming from Portugal and from Cartaya and Gibraleón.
Corrales emerged in the 19th century as a mining town established by the Compañía de Cobre y Azufre de Tharsis Ltd., funded with French capital. A factory was built for the processing of pyrites ore extracted in Tharsis, as well as a wharf for ore exportation. The building of a railway line connecting the wharf to the port of Huelva was initiated in 1866. The mining complex declined in the 1960s, causing mass emigration from Aljaraque.

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2016

Symbols of Aljaraque

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) and arms of Aljaraque, adopted on 30 January 1998 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by Decree No. 426, adopted on 7 November 2000 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 30 November 2000 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 138, p. 17,854 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 11:18, sea blue with a yellow horizontal stripe and a white vertical stripe. In the middle, the local coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Azure a tower or port and windows gules surrounded by two pines eradicated argent in chief two oars or in saltire. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The first flag and arms were proposed on 20 January 1992 by Tomás Rodríguez Peñas. The flag was horizontally divided into five wavy stripes, in turn blue and white, with proportions 1:1:4:1:1, and charged in the center with a yellow tower surrounded by wheat spikes of the same colour. The proposal was rejected on 8 June 1995 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba. The colours of the charges differ between the proposed flag and arms (see below): the tower is azure on the arms while yellow on the flag, the spikes are vert on the arms while yellow on the flag. The pine from the arms is omitted, and the colour of the background is changed from argent (white) to blue and white. Accordingly, the municipality would have two different heraldic emblems, which is not acceptable.

Designed from scratch, the proposed arms were "Argent a mount vert ensigned by a tower azure and a pine vert surrounded by two wheat spikes or in base waves azure and argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed". The proposal was rejected on 8 June 1995 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba. The symmetry of heraldic design should be broken only for specific reasons. Neither wheat growing nor pinewoods are characteristic elements allowing differentiation from the arms of several other Andalusian municipalities. Moreover, the tower, common in the Andalusian heraldry, is not supported by any historical source in Aljaraque. The waves refer to the sea, a lagoon or a river, "an excessively abnormal circumstance". The chromatic proximity between green and blue lacks contrast. The Academy recommended to design true canting arms.
Rodríguez' claim that Aljaraque has no documented historical arms is unsubstantiated. Juan A. Marquez Domínguez et al. (Aljaraque, un territorio en transformación, 1991) report research made by the medievalist González Gómez: the municipality used in 1823, 1866, 1893, 1901 and 1955 similar designs featuring a tower flanked sinister by a pine. In 1955, the Mayor ordered an oil painting of the arms, represented as "Per pale, 1. A tree, 2. A tower", the shield surrounded by a cartouche inscribed with the name of the place and surmounted by a Royal crown open. Accordingly, the lack of symmetry in Rodríguez' proposal was not whimsical but based on historical arms. Similarly, the use of the tower is supported by the historical designs, which were seemingly unknown to the Academy. The recommendation of canting arms is awkward, since the etymology of Aljaraque is disputed.
On 11 May 1996, Juan José Antequera proposed a "rehabilitation" of the old design, as "Azure a tower argent masoned sable port and windows of the same surrounded by two pines eradicated or an anchor or fimbriated gules on the gate". The Municipal Council suggested modifications of the design, the anchor being substituted by another nautical element for the sake of differentiation from the arms of Huelva, which feature a tree, an anchor and a castle.

The pine alludes to the pinewoods that surround the town. The tower represents the fortified watch tower that existed before the establishment of the settlement of Aljaraque. The field azure and the oars recall the maritime past of the town.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2016