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Almonte (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

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

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Presentation of Almonte

The municipality of Almonte (22,964 inhabitants in 2013, therefore the 3rd most populated municipality in the province; 86,100 ha, therefore the biggest municipality in the province by its area; municipal website) is located 60 km north-east of Huelva.

Almonte was already settled in the 8th century BC by the Tartessians, who extracted silver from the local mines. Remains of two Roman villae, settled in the 2nd-6th century, were found near the modern town.
During the Muslim period, Almonte was considered as the cradle of horse-breeding. During the last years of the taifa (kingdom) of Niebla, the territory of Almonte spread from the estuary of Guadalquivir to Algarve. Reconquerred in 1262, Almonte and Hinojos were incorporated in 1269 to the Royal hunting domain by King Alfonso X the Wise. The town of Almonte was established in 1335 and granted to Alvar Pérez de Guzmán, Alguacil Mayor of Seville. In 1499, the Duke of Medina Sidonia eventually acquired Almonte, establishing territorial continuity between his possessions in Huelva and Cádiz.

The El Rocio pilgrimage is one of the most popular Marian celebrations in the world. Alfonso X ordered the erection of the chapel of Santa María de las Rocinas on the bank of the marshes of Guadalquivir. The local tradition, however, claims a more recent origin of the pilgrimage. In the early 15th century, a villager from Almonte found a miraculous statue of the Virgin in a bramble's bush located in a remote area known as La Rocina. The villager attempted to bring the statue to the village, but the statue went back to La Rocina, where a chapel was erected. The Mother Brotherhood of El Rocio was founded in 1653; daughter brotherhoods were established in the 18th century in Villamanrique de la Condesa, Pilas, La Palma del Condado, Moguer and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. In 1722, the Duke of Medina Sidonia officially authorized the organization of the pilgrimage in El Rocio; confirmed by Royal privilege, the event was renamed Real Feria del Rocío (Rocio Royal Festival). Destroyed in 1755 by the Lisbon earthquake, the chapel was eventually rebuilt in 1961 by the architects Antonio Delgado Roig and Alberto Balbotín de Orta, and consecrated in 1969. The village of El Rocio soon developed around the new chapel.

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2016

Symbols of Almonte

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) and arms of Almonte, first adopted on 10 August 2000 and revised on 4 December 2001 by the Municipal Council, as suggested on 2 October 2001 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 75, adopted on 19 February 2002 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 21 March 2002 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 34, pp. 4,336-4,337 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia 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 x 18, made of a vertical blue stripe covering the flag's left third (close to the hoist), the two other thirds, white with a red diagonal stripe running from left to right and from bottom to top. The coat of arms centered on the vertical line separating the blue and white stripes.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Azure two caldrons checky or and gules in pale with seven snake's heads vert on each hilt, 2. Sable a diagonal bend gules an orle argent charged with five escutcheons, or quinas, azure charged with five roundels, or circles, argent with the Royal arms of Portugal. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The Preamble of the Decree explains the symbols as follows.

The flag was designed from scratch, using the blue, red and white colours of the coat of arms.
The old arms conjecturally used during the first third of the 19th century are unknown; they were substituted by the arms used during the last 150 years. Almonte used the arms of the Duke of Medina Sidonia from the the middle of the 15th century, when Juan Alonso III de Guzmán purchased the town, until the abolishment of the feudal system. The proposed "rehabilitated" coat of arms symbolizes the old connection of Almonte with the Guzmán lineage, Dukes of Medina Sidonia and Counts of Niebla, and their kinship with the Portuguese nobility. It is a nearly exact copy of the arms of the Duke of Escalona, known since 1470, with minor differences. The heraldic charges are derived from the arms of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia, lords of Almonte.

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2016